Dolphin Safe Tuna

Dolphins are a non-target species. Non-target species are animals that are accidentely killed when fisherman go after one species (such as tuna) and get other animals caught in their nets. 

Fisherman who want to catch as many fish as possible use driftnets and trawlers. These are two ways to easily catch a lot of fish, but also catch many other types of animals. Driftnets are huge, sometimes mile long, nets that simply stay in the ocean and catch everything that passes through them. 

Different species sometimes share the same habitat. When driftnets and trawlers go after tuna, they sometimes catch dolphins, which are in the area. Dolphins are not the target of the fisherman, but because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time they get caught in the nets. 

Seals, sharks, dolphins, turtles, manatees, squids, and sometimes sea bird are all non-target species. They are killed in large numbers when fisherman go after targeted species. 

Dolphin Safe LogoIn the late 1980s a world-wide movement to prevent the deaths of dolphins by tuna fisherman began. Laws were passed and fishing techniques changed.  The total number of dolphins killed in nets decreased. Tuna caught using dolphin safe methods bears a dolphin safe logo. 

From 1959 to 1991 an estimated 7,000,000 dolphins were killed by tuna fisherman. In 1995 the total number killed by american fisherman was 114. Unnecessary dolphin deaths still happen every day in countries where enforcement of dolphin safe laws is less stringent.

Copyright © 2002 Missouri Botanical Garden
MBGnet Home