In 1990, when the three largest tuna canneries in the U.S. pledged to no longer catch tuna without deliberately chasing or setting nets on dolphins – thanks to the exploitative video shot by conservationist Sam LaBudde – the term “dolphin safe” gained popularity amongst people willing to eat tuna, but not wanting to be responsible for the deaths of millions of dolphins.
And although it is true that the by-catch of dolphins has been largely reduced over the past 25 years, the threat to the survival of the oceans remains a very, real problem. As with any ecosystem, whether it be oceanic or terrestrial, habitat destruction and species decimation go hand-in-hand. This in turn, affects dolphins and as such, a solution to FAD fishing needs to be sought.
“Like any factory farming, FAD fishing is no different. It’s designed to process a large amount of fish, with the least amount of effort. In this case, the unwanted ‘side effects’ of such operations are the large by-catch of hundreds of species, resulting in the unintentional deaths of thousands of animals.”- Ric O’Barry
Even the term “dolphin safe” is a misnomer, as current information suggests the industry is largely self-regulated, and doesn’t support sustainable fishing of tuna. It’s not like anyone is going to advertise that their tuna is “dolphin unsafe.”