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Frequently Asked Questions

Tuna Tracking and Verification Program


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ATTENTION: On December 15, 2017, all Dolphin-Safe Tuna Tracking & Verification Program web pages will be migrated to:

The Eastern Tropical Pacific (ETP) includes the Pacific Ocean area bounded by 40° N. latitude, 40° S. latitude, 160° W longitude and the coastlines of North, Central, and South America (defined in 50 CFR § 216.3).
No. While the vast majority of the canned tuna sold in the U.S. has been certified as dolphin-safe, Federal Regulations allow U.S. processors and importers to purchase and sell non dolphin-safe tuna. The tuna must have originated from a U.S. purse seine vessel in sets where dolphins were accidentally killed or seriously injured, from a U.S. purse seine vessel with an AIDCP Dolphin Mortality Limit (DML), or from foreign purse seine vessels flagged by a country that has obtained an affirmative finding from the Assistant Administrator. However, non dolphin-safe tuna products must not bear any marks or labels that indicate otherwise.
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.
No. Canned tuna has never contained dolphin/mammal by-products. Non dolphin-safe canned tuna is a fishery product that has not been certified as meeting the U.S. definition of dolphin-safe.
No. Federal regulations do not require a product to be labeled dolphin-safe.
No. The only dolphin-safe certification process recognized by the U.S. Government as satisfying all applicable federal regulations is the one implemented by the NOAA Fisheries Service Tuna Tracking & Verification Program.
Yes. Between 1959 and 1976 it is estimated that over 6 million dolphin mortalities occurred in association with the ETP tuna purse seine fishery. However, since that time the numbers have dropped dramatically. For example, according to IATTC estimates, the total annual mortality of dolphins in the fishery has been reduced from about 132,000 in 1986 to less than 1,200 in 2008--about 0.01% of the population.

Updated: November 30, 2017