As has now come to light, Earth Island Institute (EII) was absent from an ISSF tuna-dolphin workshop that was held to review the current state of scientific knowledge regarding dolphin-safe tuna fishing on October 25th-26th 2012 in California. The workshop which brought together scientists from all over the world was one of the most important scientific meetings on the issue over the last decade. EII is the only dolphin-safe activist group across the tuna industry, and headquartered in Berkeley, Callifornia.
The workshop was presented by Dr. Victor Restrepo, Chairman of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), and was attended by over 20 different expert scientists from the IATTC, NOAA, ISSF, INAPESCA, WWF and UCSC. EII, that claims to represent 90 percent of the global tuna industry under its dolphin-safe program, and voicing to be science-based supported of many expert scientists, however, chose not to participate, or send any delegate or observer.
Michael Crispino, ISSF Vice president of Communications, said: "Last year's workshop was held for expert scientists who have been working on diverse aspects of the tuna-dolphin issue. EII was notified of the meeting and invited to send an expert to participate."
One conclusion from the workshop revealed that ISSF characterized the Eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO) dolphin associated purse seine fishery with a green rating. It outlined "In the EPO, purse-seine fishermen have learned to take advantage of the association between yellowfin schools and herds of dolphins that is prevalent in the region."
Despite this, Michael Crispino said: "It is important to note that the ISSF Scientific Advisory Committee does not recommend the use of one fishing method over others. The tuna workshop did not provide any advice for fishing companies or retailers."
All ISSF members are also listed under the EII dolphin-safe program. This program forbids "intentional chasing, netting or encirclement of dolphins during an entire fishing trip," in its list of standards. The science-based values of ISSF however have concluded that catching based on associations of mature yellowfin with dolphins are not expected to have adverse population effects on by-catch. The report states: "fishermen and scientists developed techniques for releasing the dolphins alive after a set, and retaining the tunas."
The report of the workshop stressed that the advancement of techniques has aided the dramatic decline in the dolphin mortality rate: "Mortality of dolphins was very high early on, but the IATTC estimates that it has since the late 1980s declined by 98 percent."
Crispino emphasized the scientific values of ISSF and that the role of the workshop was to "review the current state of scientific knowledge regarding the impact of the dolphin-associated tuna purse seine fishery in the eastern Pacific Ocean (EPO).
"The ISSF SAC has developed a set of ratings for each major type tuna fishing gear/mode. All fishing gear ratings are intended to measure relative ecosystem impacts," he said.
Atuna.com contacted several Earth Island Institute Dolphin-Safe staff to ask them the reason that no representative was present at this important tuna-dolphin workshop, but received no response.