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Court blocks Bush "Dolphin Safe" label

10th April 2003

Lawsuit seeks to overturn Bush Administration of the 31 December 2002 decision to weaken "Dolphin Safe" tuna label

International Marine Mammal Project

San Francisco

Earth Island Institute scored another legal victory for dolphins today when Judge Thelton Henderson issued a Preliminary Injunction halting the weakening of the standards for the "Dolphin Safe" tuna label.

On New Year's Eve, 2002, Secretary of Commerce Donald Evans attempted to gut the meaning of "Dolphin Safe" to allow Mexico and other countries the ability to label their canned tuna as "Dolphin Safe," despite the fact that they continue to chase and net dolphins to catch the tuna that swim beneath. More than 7 million dolphins have been killed by this fishing technique. Earth Island and eight environmental groups sued the government in "Earth Island Institute v Evans."

In granting the injunction, Judge Henderson stated: "... this Court concludes that plaintiffs have (1) raised a serious question as to whether the Secretary relied on factors which Congress did not intend it to consider, and (2) shown that they are likely to succeed on their claim that the final finding is contrary to the best available scientific evidence..."

"This is a victory for dolphins, and a good start for our lawsuit," stated Mark J. Palmer, Assistant Director of Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project. "We can now go to trial over the next few months knowing that the integrity of the 'Dolphin Safe' tuna label will be protected by this injunction."

Plaintiffs in the dolphin case include: Earth Island Institute, Samuel LaBudde, Humane Society of the United States, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Defenders of Wildlife, International Wildlife Coalition, Animal Welfare Institute, Society for Animal Protective Legislation, Animal Fund, and Oceanic Society.

Earth Island Institute is a non-profit educational organization dedicated to protecting the diversity of life on Earth. The International Marine Mammal Project works to protect whales, dolphins and other marine mammals around the world.

VIDEO AVAILABLE: Broadcast quality video footage by Samuel LaBudde of the devastating effects of tuna nets on dolphins is available by calling

Earth Island (415) 788-3666.
For more information contact:

Earth Island Institute
Mark J. Palmer (415) 788-3666 x139
Or (530) 758-6022