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Support for AIDCP

The Agreement on International Dolphin Conservation Program (AIDCP) a multilateral agreement on dolphin conservation and ecosystem management, whose programs are administered by the scientific staff and Secretariat of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC). Below are statements in suport of the AIDCP by the Executive Branch, Members of Congress and environmental organizations.


"The protection of dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, where these marine mammals swim together with schools of yellowfin tuna, has long been a high priority for the United States. Strengthening the International Dolphin Conservation Program through this legislation is a major victory for strong international efforts to protect dolphins caught during tuna fishing in this region. The Act recognizes that ongoing international efforts have been a tremendous success-dolphin mortalities have been reduced by more than 98 percent from previous levels. Foreign nations, whose fishing fleets have contributed to this success, will no longer face U.S. embargoes on their tuna products if they continue to participate effectively in this international program."

-- President Clinton signing the International Dolphin Conservation Program Act (IDCPA), August 15, 1997.


"In recent years, we have reduced dolphin mortality in the Eastern Tropical Pacific tuna fishery far below historic levels. Your legislation will codify an international agreement to lock these gains in place, further reduce dolphin mortality, and protect other marine life in the region. This agreement was signed last year by the United States and 11 other nations.... Opponents of this legislation promote alternative fishing methods, such as ‘log fishing' [FADs] and ‘school fishing,' but these are environmentally unsound.  These fishing methods involve unacceptably high by-catch of juvenile tunas, billfish, sharks, endangered sea turtles and other species, and pose long-term threats to the marine ecosystem."

-- Vice President Al Gore to the U.S. Congress supporting the passage of the IDCPA, June 3, 1996.


"The AIDCP has been an unqualified success and has diligently applied the relevant principles set forth in the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, in particular those aspects relating to the precautionary approach and the utilization of fishing gear and techniques which minimize the catch of non-target species and allowed for the enormous reduction in dolphin mortality that was achieved.  AIDCP was also commended for its active involvement with the fishing industry and environmental non-governmental organizations, which constituted a successful and exemplary interaction among the various stakeholders."

-- The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on awarding the AIDCP the 2005 Margarita Lizarraga Medal Award for distinction in the application of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.


"Not only does the bill [S. 39, the International Dolphin Conservation Program Act] strengthen the Marine Mammal Protection Act, protection for dolphins in the Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) but it also protects the ecosystem by reducing the bycatch of endangered sea turtles, sharks, billfish and juvenile tuna.  Additionally, the Act is an important step in solidifying the voluntary program presently in place in the ETP which has reduced dolphin mortality from 423,678 in 1972 to 2,700 in the last year. Enactment of S. 39 and the development of the new international standards in prescribes will being the conservation community significantly closer to the goal of eliminating dolphin deaths altogether. Delay in enactment of S. 39 would mean sacrificing this important opportunity to strengthen the protection of dolphins and the ecosystem in which they live."

-- Roger McManus (President, Center for Marine Conservation), Barbara Dudley (Executive Director, Greenpeace), Kathryn Fuller (President, World Wildlife Fund), Fred Krupp (Executive Director, Environmental Defense Fund), Mark Van Putten (President, National Wildlife Federation) in a letter to Senator John McCain.


"Failure to enact this bill [S. 39] would be a devastating blow to our efforts to protect the marine environment.  Without this implementing legislation, current fishing practices will continue, practices which scientists have learned have an adverse impact not only on dolphin but a host of other marine life including sea turtles and bill fish. Foreign fishing companies no longer bound by the international treaty my well resume even more harmful fishing practices which would spell disaster for dolphin. The impact of tuna fishing on dolphin is an international problem which demands an international response. Passage of this legislation will ensure the cooperation and the need to provide meaningful and sustainable protection for dolphin and other marine life."

-- U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ)


"The Panama Declaration and S. 39 represent a landmark international effort to achieve two critical objectives: to protect dolphins in the ETP and to protect the entire marine ecosystem of this vast region . . . This is the most effective and responsible way to achieve our dual objectives of protecting dolphins and the ecosystem of the ETP, and the reasons are twofold. While dolphin setting was once very deadly for the dolphin, refinements to the practice in recent years have yielded tremendous gains.... These mortality reductions per set have led to a preciptitious decline in total dolphin mortality in the ETP.... The basic intent of the Panama Declaration and S. 39 is to lock that nations that fish in the ETP into a very strict conservation regime that will require them to continue the progress made to date and eventually reduce dolphin mortality to a level near zero.  And it is also to recognize a fishing method that causes very little harm to dolphins, but which is also the safest possible fishing method for all the other species that live in the ETP."

-- former U.S. Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME)


"I believe that the conservation goals of the International Dolphin Conservation Program are such a significant Government interest...the concern of the misuse of alternative labels continues to exist. Our compromise would address this concern by forbidding any campaign or effort to mislead or deceive consumers about the level of protection afforded dolphins under the International Dolphin Conservation Program.... If alternative labels are used in such a way to undermine the conservation goals of the International Dolphin Conservation Program, then the Secretary will make a report to the Congress. If our efforts here today, and over the past 2 years, are being thwarted by a campaign to undercut the label or International Dolphin Conservation Program, then we should know and we should take action to eliminate this problem."

-- former U.S. Senator John Breaux (D-LA


"This decline in mortality has been attributed to the attention that the United States brought to this issue through the dolphin-safe label, and to the efforts of nations which participate in the dolphin conservation program under the La Jolla agreement of 1992. I think there is consensus that the La Jolla agreement and its successor agreement, the Panama Declaration, are very important to dolphin conservation...this compromise is an important step forward for both continued dolphin protection and enhanced ecosystem protection."

-- U.S. Senator John Kerry (D-MA)


"Our best chance of promoting conservation is through a multilateral, rather than a unilateral, forum. But other signatories to the Panama Declaration will not wait forever while the United States Congress continues to debate this issue. The time to act is now."

-- former Senator John Chafee (R-ME)


"It is time to recognize that our dolphin protection policies have been a success. Dolphin mortality in the ETP has dropped from 500,000 per year in the bad old days, to a mere 4,100 last year, out of a population of nearly 10 million animals. We have gotten the other countries that fish the ETP to agree to the most comprehensive international fishery management program ever proposed, with assurances that tuna-related dolphin mortality will never exceed 5,000, which is a biologically insignificant number."

-- former Representative Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD)


"...aside from the fact that the bill seeks to minimize dolphin mortality and protect the rest of the marine ecosystem, H.R. 2823 would allow the return of the U.S. tuna fleet to the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and bring new tuna processing jobs to California. What's left of the U.S. tuna fleet mainly fishes the Western Pacific near Asia, but under the Panama Declaration, the U.S. fleet could fish the ETP on a level playing field with international competition, under the most rigorous environmental protection regime of any international fishery."

-- former Representative Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD)


"...many environmental crises know no borders, and the unnecessary killing of marine mammals is one such crisis. One country acting alone cannot save the oceans and protect their bounty. Once we succeed in getting governments and fishermen to agree to a goal of zero dolphin deaths, we will achieve real truth in labeling, and more importantly, a package dolphins can live with."

-- Joint statement by Greenpeace and Seafarers International Union of North America.

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