Animal Legal Defense Fund Petitions Federal Trade Commission To Investigate Deceptive Claims Of Top Three Tuna Suppliers

Posted on July 30, 2012

Bumble Bee Foods, Chicken of the Sea, and StarKist Making False Claims to Consumers About “Dolphin-Safety” and Sustainability

For immediate release:

Contact: Lisa Franzetta, Animal Legal Defense Fund

Contact: Megan Backus, Animal Legal Defense Fund

dolphin safe?WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) filed a petition with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asking the agency to take action to stop Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, and StarKist from making deceptive claims to consumers about the dolphin-safety and sustainability of their tuna products. The petition outlines the environmentally devastating practices–including practices that can lead to dolphin mortality–of the companies, each of which promotes its tuna as “sustainable” and “dolphin-safe.” These claims are deceptive and constitute false advertising to consumers, who rely on the accuracy of such representations to make informed purchasing decisions.

Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea claim to be “100% dolphin-safe,” and all three of the suppliers named in ALDF’s petition state they will not purchase tuna caught in association with dolphins–a significant concern because tuna often swim together with dolphins. Dolphins can be traumatized, netted, injured, and killed by typical tuna fishing practices, including the use of giant “purse seine” nets, which capture dolphins along with tuna. Yet while approximately half of tuna consumers believe the dolphin-safe label means no dolphins died for the tuna in their can, the number of dolphins killed or injured by “certified” dolphin-safe tuna fishing methods in reality could number in the thousands every year.

Meanwhile, on their packaging and their websites, the top three tuna suppliers all outline their commitment to “sustainable” fishing practices–ones that won’t deplete resources or harm the natural cycles of tuna or other marine life. However, the longlines and purse seine nets used to catch approximately 75% of the world’s tuna–including tuna sold by Bumble Bee, Chicken of the Sea, and StarKist–kill millions of non-target marine animals as “bycatch” every year, including sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and even sea birds. Some of these populations have been so decimated by commercial fishing that they are now critically endangered. Because these companies falsely advertise their commitment to sustainability, reasonable consumers would be led to believe they are not supporting such environmentally destructive practices.

“ALDF would like to see a swift end to the environmentally devastating practices of long-line fishing and purse seine fishing,” says ALDF executive director Stephen Wells. “But until the tuna industry adopts more sustainable, more ethical practices, the FTC must at a minimum stop them from using greenwashing to deceive well-meaning consumers.”

Copies of ALDF’s petition to the FTC are available upon request.

Take Action!

Join us in telling StarKist, Bumble Bee, and Chicken of the Sea to stop
making deceptive claims to consumers about the dolphin-safety and
sustainability of their tuna products! Sign the petition now.

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