You need all the facts to judge for yourself what you feel comfortable accepting and what allows you to eat your delicious meal with a free conscious. Eating out? Consider, and ask (!) the species on the menu and the fishing technique used to catch your supper. Ideally they'll have little or no bycatch (i.e. animals captured that were not the intended target) helping to protect other sea life where possible. You'll never get the fine detail of boat landings or limitations, discards and whatnot. However, you can control what I believe is the most important part of the supply chain: demand. If they're serving something you don't feel comfortable admitting you're eating, say NO!
Back to my point. The reality of "dolphin safe" tuna is that bycatch for this method of fishing is far greater than the old, original method of tracking dolphin pods. The fishing technique changed due to the public outcry that dolphins were being killed as bycatch while fisherman targeted tuna. Now roles have changed as most dolphins swim free while the new technique takes more victims than ever before. Boats operating a "dolphin safe" fishing policy use purse seine nets to capture tuna. Unfortunately they are indiscriminate and capture a HUGE variety of other sea life too, collectively known as bycatch. Bycatch includes but is not limited to: sharks, turtles, sailfish, many fish species, the odd dolphin and many additional sea creatures. Saving some of the world's dolphins is costing us a great deal more.
Sharks. On average 100 million sharks are killed every year, that's a shocking average of over 274,000 sharks killed every day by humans. This is considerably unsustainable and is damaging the balance within our oceans ecosystems. The majority of sharks in this figure is due to demand for shark fin soup which is considered a delicacy in many countries but hugely proportioned to Hong Kong. Fins are taken from sharks targeted by fishing boats and sharks caught as bycatch. The "dolphin friendly" tuna contributes towards this outrageous death toll.
Turtles. Although turtle eggs are still considered a delicacy to some the act of stealing eggs from a turtles nest is not only frowned upon by many but is now illegal in many countries. Turtles are hit hard by drifting nets such as ghost nets and swimmer nets and yes you guessed it, the nets used to capture the "dolphin friendly" tuna. Turtles are particularly vulnerable to netting methods as they need to reach the surface to breath, they wait trapped and entangled in nets hoping for a fisherman's haul to set them free. However, the reality it this rarely arrives in time.
My point? The only way to eat seafood comfortably is to know HOW your dinner was caught and WHAT species you're about to snack on.
Back to my example of a tuna sandwich. The best, most sustainable fishing method for tuna is pole and line caught tuna where they are directly targeted and bycatch, if any, is released almost immediately. Get to know the brands that offer sustainable methods of fishing and help protect both the dolphins and the multiple bycatch sea life that would otherwise die in most "dolphin friendly" tins of tuna.
Stop demand and you'll stop destructive fishing processes. It's been done before.
We can all make a difference but it's down to us as individuals to make the effort to do just that. Whether you're eating out or shopping in the local supermarket use Google to search your dinner choice, it's a powerful tool!
Swim with dolphins in the wild, say no to captivity and always eat sustainably.
Link to sustainable fish listings: www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx">www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx and the IUCN's redlist: www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx
Link to understanding fishing methods: www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx Annie's Twitter: www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx Annie's Website: www.seafoodwatch.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx