Dolphins Win Temporary Repreive

On Tuesday January 7th, the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to a temporary
stay which will prevent the Bush Administration's recent relaxation of
"dolphin-safe" tuna label standards from going into effect (see
Issue 228). The stay means that the original dolphin-safe
labeling standards (which apply only to tuna that is not caught by
deliberately dropping nets around dolphin schools) will remain in place
until a hearing on a preliminary injunction, which is set to take place in
about two months. If the preliminary injunction is granted, the new,
weaker labeling standards will not go into effect until the lawsuit
challenging them is resolved.

The Bush Administration had weakened tuna
labeling standards primarily to appease Mexican trade interests, who are
vexed because in their view, their dolphin-deadly tuna fishing practices
have kept them from competing in the US market for more than a decade. The
lawsuit may not be the only challenge that the Bush Administration faces
in trying to weaken the label. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-California) has
vowed to introduce legislation, perhaps this week, which will reinstate
the old standards for "Dolphin Safe." In an interview with the Associated
Press, Boxer accused the Bush Administration of "putting free trade ahead
of protecting dolphin(s)," and she declared the new label definition
"completely false advertising."

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