WTO Dolphin-Tuna Controversy Shows Why We Should Limit UN Globalization


The May 16, 2012 report, “United States – Measures Concerning The Importation, Marketing And Sale Of Tuna And Tuna Products”, shows why many advocate that the United States should limit the control that the United Nations has over what we do. We should be allowed to do as we please without any regulations, but expectations for all countries involved in international compacts should be applied on a level field, instead of tilted in favor of select UN members, their whims, desires and the caving of many of our politicians to support this attitude. In the May 16th report, the US opposes the practices Mexican fisherman to track tuna using dolphins. Simply put, Mexico is not operating under the dolphin protection regulations, known as the “Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program”, and which the World Trade Organization admitted to finding Mexico repeatedly violating.

A US investigation found Mexico selling containers of tuna under the label of “dolphin free” when in fact there is a high level of dolphin meat in the contents. The US is bound by the dolphin conservation treaty to label containers as dolphin free, as an agreed measure to use fishing practices that keep little-to-no dolphin capture for food content. However according to the WTO, it is acceptable for Mexico to label containers of tuna that are in direct violations of this standard alongside US containers that are kept within this practice. By using the technique of tracking dolphin to find tuna, the fishing process is quicker and yields more loads of mixed food for their canneries. Fishing within the parameters of the agreement in order to reduce the chances of capturing dolpin with tuna is more expensive than using alternative methods.

Mexico brought this to the WTO seeking to avoid penalties after the US added tariffs due to the violations. They argued that because calling a label “tuna free” is not recognized as a standard, it can be used on anything a company wishes.

Due to the fact Mexico wants to skirt agreed guidelines, Mexico, or anyone else may label their tuna as they please and compete with American products and consumers. If the US was to use the same tactic in Mexico or another country, the WTO would come down immediately on our practice with accusation of violations and fraudulent practice. This double standard has been in practice for years, but lately it has been more open and caustic to the American market as it deals with the larger world economy.

In issues like this, where others countries can violate our laws, regulations, and even international laws, the UN has shown a willingness to support said actions in violation of our sovereignty. In this case, the WTO is willing to attack our market by allowing any country to openly violate laws and treatise while penalizing the US for taking action on such issues. This is not the first time the WTO or the UN has supported countries in violation of agreements over supporting the US when we follow such regulations judiciously. Thus is why there is a growing movement for the US to pull out of the UN.