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For Immediate Release


Dan Byrnes: (202) 495-3039 or

Press Release

World Trade Organization Puts Dolphins At Risk


Today, the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled against the dolphin-saving U.S. labeling program for tuna, calling it a “technical barrier to trade.” Mexico brought the case against the U.S.

Since 1990, the United States has maintained a “dolphin-safe” labeling program for tuna that allows consumers to choose to purchase tuna caught in a manner that does not kill dolphins. The “dolphin-safe” label has contributed to a 97-percent reduction in dolphin deaths since the 1980s in Pacific waters where dolphins and tuna cohabitate.

Today’s ruling marks the fourth time that the WTO has ruled against the U.S. label in the last four years and means that the U.S. could face WTO-authorized trade sanctions for maintaining the dolphin-saving label.

In response, Ilana Solomon, director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program released the following statement:
“Americans want to know that the food they purchase and serve to their families does not come at the expense of wildlife. Today’s WTO decision limits environmentally friendly choices for Americans, puts dolphins at risk, and and opens the door to further trade deal limits on consumer protections and environmental safeguards.
“This should serve as a warning against expansive trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership that would replicate rules that undermine safeguards for wildlife, clean air, and clean water.
“The U.S. government should not cave to pressure by weakening the dolphin-saving label. Instead, the U.S. should seek a negotiated solution with Mexico that keeps the label intact. After all, the United States government is ultimately accountable to the interests of the public, not to the interests of corporate-friendly trade organizations. Congress should also protect our safeguards by rejecting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which would replicate the rules that the WTO used to strike down our dolphin-saving label.”


The Sierra Club is the most enduring and influential grassroots environmental organization in the United States. We amplify the power of our 3.8 million members and supporters to defend everyone’s right to a healthy world.

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