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An "affirmative finding" is a set of criteria the United States imposes on nations wishing to import yellowfin tuna into the U.S. in order for the importing nation to comport with our environmental laws and requirements regarding dolphin-safe tuna.
A portion of the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) addresses the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (ETP) tuna purse seine fishery and the importation of yellowfin tuna from nations participating in this fishery. Under the MMPA, the United States maintains its embargo of yellowfin tuna from a nation whose vessels harvest ETP tuna (harvesting nation) unless the nation obtains an "affirmative finding" from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS).
The MMPA affirmative finding requires that the harvesting nation meets several conditions related to compliance with the International Dolphin Conservation Program (IDCP). These conditions are outlined below.
1) A statement requesting an affirmative finding;
2) A statement that a nation is a member of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), or has taken all steps toward application for membership required by article V, paragraph 3, of the Convention for the Establishment of an IATTC, and is meeting all obligations of membership in the IATTC including financial obligations;
3) A statement that the nation is meeting the obligations of, and complying with, the provisions under the IDCP, and is ensuring that its vessels are participating in the IDCP;
4) A statement that the nations national (fleet) Dolphin Mortality Limits (DMLs) and per-stock, per-year dolphin mortality caps were not exceeded in the year preceding the affirmative finding request and;
5) Copy of the letter to the IATTC authorizing the IATTC to release complete and accurate information and verification information to NMFS. This waiver should release the IATTC to verify tuna tracking information. During spot checks of U.S. markets, NMFS will track yellowfin tuna product back to the vessel and well from which the tuna came. NMFS will verify via IATTC Tuna Tracking Forms that the vessel well contained tuna from sets in which no dolphins were observed killed or seriously injured. In cases in which tuna were harvested by a nation with an affirmative finding, the IATTC could expedite verification.