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An Account of the Dolphin-Safe Tuna Issue in the UK

AUTHORS: James Brown

Virtually all canned tuna in the UK is labelled as dolphin-safe despite the fact that the market is almost exclusively skipjack tuna. It is thus not implicated in the dolphin bycatch problem associated with the yellowfin tuna of the Eastern Tropical Pacific consumed in the USA. There were a range of different motives among processors and retailers in adopting the labelling scheme in the UK. The scheme may be more of a marketing ploy, promoted by the major processors, than an eco-label forced upon the market through consumer and environmentalist power. Environmental groups can nonetheless be credited with driving the development of initial first-party labelling schemes into the present, more independent, second-party scheme. The scheme now in place in the UK is different from that in the USA, being preventative, ensuring that tuna sold does not become dolphin-un-safe, rather than actively addressing a specific existing environmental problem. This article is published in Marine Policy 29 (2005) 39-46.

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