Claire Corlett

Fish Food, Fish Tanks, and More
International Negotiations in Bycatch Reduction: A Case Study on the Tuna-Dolphin Agreement

International Negotiations in Bycatch Reduction: A Case Study on the Tuna-Dolphin Agreement


Hi everyone! Welcome to the final Knauss
brown bag of the year I’m very pleased to have two speakers today the first one
is Brianna Elliott who is a current Knauss Marine Policy Fellow at the State
Department’s Office of Marine Conservation primarily focused on
international fisheries issues. Before becoming a Fellow she worked at NMFS
Office of Protected Resources working on Marine Mammal Protection Act authorizations.
She received her master’s in coastal management from Duke University in 2017
where she also focused on protecting species policy related to fisheries
and ocean noise. Brianna, so excited for your talk. [Brianna Elliott] Thank you Emily and
thank you all so much for coming today I especially appreciate you coming out
right before the holidays so as Emily mentioned my name is Brianna I’m a
current Knauss Fellow at the Department of State Office of Marine Conservation
and for my Brown Bag today I am not going to be talking about my master’s
work as I understand many Knauss Fellows do but instead I’m going to be talking
about an issue that my host office works on this is the agreement on the
international dolphin conservation program and I’m specifically going to
approach this as a case study in international negotiations on bycatch
reduction and part of the reason why I wanted to talk about this was because at
some recent international fisheries meetings countries have been unable to
reach consensus on proposals to reduce marine mammal bycatch various countries
have blocked measures and it’s been a little bit frustrating to see so I’ve
been doing some deep thinking trying to figure out why that’s the case and also
wondering how on earth countries were able to reach agreement on something
like this 30 years ago so going to be exploring that a bit today and before
jumping in I just wanted to point out so this issue it’s closer to our everyday
lives than some of us may realize so I’m not sure did anybody see this article in
The Washington Post earlier this month one Millennials were
essentially accused of kind of killing the
and tuna industry there were a few reasons reasons proposed as to why that
is one being that Millennials are increasingly minimalistic and don’t want
can openers it was also mentioned that it’s because canned tuna can be gross
but the Washington Post and also a Wall Street Journal article did actually
mention the tuna dolphin issue that I’ll be mentioning today and I thought that
was I think to kind of see that in the Washington Post and then this is just a
photo of some canned tuna that we feed on all of our grocery shows brief
overview of where we’ll be going today so first I’m just going to talk a little
bit about the history of the issue at hand secondly move into the agreement
that was reached to solve this issue about um dolphin bycatch in the tuna
fishery talk about what makes this unique and then also touch a little bit
on the role of diplomacy and marine conservation okay so um just to start
out I’m going to be doing a little bit of some scene setting in terms of the
government the governance and political structure that dictates this issue so okay so the fishery I’m going to be
talking about operates and what’s called the inner American tropical tuna
Commission convention area is this area and the eastern Pacific that stretches
roughly from 40 degrees north to 40 degrees south west kind of just east of
of Hawaii and the ittc is one of several tuna Arsenal’s that govern tuna
fisheries throughout the world’s the world’s oceans and the ittc
is the governance structure that dictates the agreement that we’ll be
talking about today and there are several tuna fisheries that operate
within the structure of this arf ml it’s primarily the US and several Latin
American countries fishing within this arc mo and within the area specifically
we’ll be talking about a purse seine fishery the u.s. started fishing in this
fishery in roughly 1959 and we originally dominated the fishery but
over time our vessels have increasingly moved
further west in the Pacific and moved out of the fishery and the international
fleet now dominates the fishery a little bit more about the marine environment
and kind of species that we’re talking about here so again this is a purse
seine fishery assuring fishing for yellowfin tuna again in this eastern
region of the Pacific Ocean it’s also habitat – spotted spinner and common
dolphins but it’s mostly spotted dolphins that are caught in this fishery
tuna and dolphins are historically caught together in this fishery so tuna
and dolphins have a close behavioral association it’s not fully understood
why there are a variety of factors that scientists think are at hand one is
predator avoidance for similar preferred prey and then particularly in the
eastern Pacific Ocean there’s a minimum level of the surface of oxygen
availability so this behavioral Association is particularly close in
this specific area so purse seining can be done in a few ways that’s essentially
setting in that in the ocean and circling a school of fish one way is
setting a person specifically on a school of fish another is log or fat
fishing and then another are doing what are called dolphin setting which by and
large is a speedboat going out searching for a school of dolphins and then
setting their net knowing that the tuna and the Dolphins are closely associated
so in this purse seine fishery and the eastern Pacific Ocean
it’s estimated that 6 million dolphins were killed as part of this fishery from
roughly 1959 to 1976 and as you can imagine this led to a huge public outcry
throughout the late mid to late 20th century so in response to this issue
there were kind of two tracks of both a domestic response and then a bit later
on an international response so before jumping into the International kind of
negotiation side of things just to briefly touch on
was done domestically so the bycatch dolphin bycatch in the yellowfin tuna
fisheries one thing that led to adoption of the remember Protection Act in 1972
and with the passage of mm PA there was essentially a moratorium on dolphin
bycatch in this fishery taiks with dolphins had to be
essentially insignificant levels and close to zero dolphins following the
passage of mm PA there were several amendments over time that helped to
reduce this bycatch this included things I like the amendments listed here that
prohibited nighttime fishing as by Karis higher rates at night certain things
like certain back down procedures the way the net had to be configured and
boats had to maneuver and then there also called for imports on on tuna that
were catching dolphins at higher rates then the US was allowing or in
international fleets that were not following these provisions next in 1990
came what was called the dolphin protection protection Consumer
Information Act which essentially established this dolphin safe tuna label
that closely resembles what many of us see today on canned tuna and and then it
also established a few other things to kind of continue to reduce bycatch
there were continued embargoes throughout this time and then in the 90s
continued to be strengthened essentially banning the sale transport anything
related to dolphin or tuna caught with dolphins in this fishery including
intermediary processing nations as well such as the EU and then finally reach
this 90 97 agreement or this act which I’ll come back to in a little bit which
is kind of key so again kind of a very very brief summary of what the US has
been doing but in no way nearly touches the scale of what we’ve done so then
internationally so by 1992 again we had Argos we’re starting to see regulatory
action in the US on this and parties to the ITT see that we’re fishing in this
area came to an agreement of what’s called the La Jolla agreement this is a
non-binding agreement that was negotiated and in the way up hence where
it gets his name and this essentially was an international movement to try to
reduce dolphin bycatch in this fishery and it established an international
dolphin conservation program within the framework of ittc established what are
called dolphin mortality limits so for the whole fishery fleets could only
capture a certain number of dolphins per year this is a combined number for all
stocks it required an observer program and several other every several other
measures despite this embargoes on tuna imports
from the fishery continued and certain Latin American countries were not happy
with us that we were still placing these embargoes despite additional
conservation conservation measures that they were undertaking then in 1995
parties regathered and came to what’s called the Panama agreement which
essentially is a political agreement that with a negotiated outcome that
essentially said that the United States would change the definition for its
dolphins a certification related to encirclement of dolphins
if parties would come to an agreement on a finding conservation agreement I hope
I have not completely lost everyone with this but and then based on that that
kind of paved the way for this 1997 Act that’s mentioned here which was an
attempt to kind of amended often slave certification label that I just
mentioned and then after that in 1999 kind of became the poster child and the
case study of what I’m ultimately getting at which is the agreement on the
International dolphin conservation program AI DCP and AI DCP differs from
La Jolla and Panama and a few ways but the main things is that this is now a
legally binding agreement unlike the other two and parties that signed on had
to agree to these rules so what does AI DCP do again key that it’s legally
binding it has three main objectives one is to reduce Ensenada and mortalities to
levels close to zero while also maintaining the elephant tuna fishery
and sustainable levels and seeking ecologically sound ways to catch tuna
without continuing to harm dolphins it’s been ratified now by a number of
countries and it did a few things like define further refine the dolphin
mortality limit so it essentially broke down dolphin mortality limits by stock
it assigns the MLS to vessels based on vessel size and number of vessels by
flag state and a few other things and this agreement is still in place today
and so with AI DCP dolphin mortalities have been significantly reduced from the
levels that we saw earlier in the 20th century bycatch levels are essentially
at 99 percent less than what they once were in the 20th century which is a good
thing the AI DCP party is meet at least by annually to review before tally
limits discuss compliance issues and that sort of thing so the agreement very
much still lives on and it applies to countries that ratified AI DCP but it
has certainly been a controversy and it’s near 30 years of inception so it’s
essentially been tied to World Trade organization’s youth since the early 90s
and one of which was actually decided on last Friday so again this issue even
though or this even though this agreement is 30 years old it’s still
being played out like literally today so and I also just want to mention I know
this text under the WTO case something looks very small
and not the best presentation but I kind of did that just to show how many WTO
cases there are various disputes and it’s almost impossible to follow unless
you’re like the WTO junkie or maybe very well and so just kind of wanted to
provide some context on kind of where and I did b8i DCP stands in relation to
other remember bycatch and other international fora so on the right are
as an image of all of the tuna based our phones that govern various tuna
fisheries throughout the world’s oceans at TTC is in orange as you can see an AI
TTC is really the only tuna orphan though that has a legally binding marine
mammal focused bycatch program and I think because of that that’s pretty
unique IOT sea which is the Indian Ocean tuna Commission it’s kind of in the pink
on the left has some measures that that’s kind of getting there and they’ve
undertaken some green it will work but not to the scale of a DCP and then there
are some other initiatives going on globally such as the FAO listed down
here at the bottom of FAO is drafting technical guidelines on reducing very
minimal bycatch nemesis in the process of implementing an EM MPA import
provisions rule and the various other initiatives but AI DCP is still kind of
is the poster child of all of this so in thinking about how 30 years ago how
parties were able to reach a consensus them on something like this when people
first talked about AI DCP it’s often hailed as a success story so 2005 for
example AI DCP received an award from the FAO for its unqualified success that
award has been debated by some people on whether that they always lobbied by some
people for it to actually get there but but point is AI DCP is really unique in
term of global bycatch so I’m looking at AI
DCP as being a successful successful instrument because parties one were able
to actually reach consensus which we don’t see a lot today it’s legally
binding so it does stand with a lot of teeth and it did accomplish what it set
out to do which was significantly reduced often mortalities by a wide
margin today in terms of why I personally think it would be challenging
to see another AI DCP or something equivalent our one politics that is a
very loose term purposely politics just in our from those in terms of countries
different country relations and that sort of thing and politics and one art
though influencing another one a lot of countries are hesitant to take an action
that might be precedent setting for something that they need to do in other
international fora another issue is unlike what we saw in TTC I can’t really
think of any fisheries where they are roughly six million documents being
killed so there isn’t necessarily a direct issue to address the way that AI
DCP addressed and then also we still have huge data gaps on remember
abundance of distributions throughout the world’s oceans and then the images
here so the top is just the below gopher ittc and the bottom this is a DCP
meeting in La Jolla this past this past year so just to summarize quickly again
I feel like I’ve said this 10,000 times but my DCP was really precedent-setting
in that it wasn’t legally binding instrument and really the only legally
binding instrument to reduce free milliwatt cash in the world’s oceans
it’s extremely complex I barely scratched the surface but there are
various scientific diplomacy economic trade angles to it as well as to kind of
congruent work streams going on what we’re doing domestically as well as
what’s going on internationally and again it’s can be allotted as a
successful international case study but important to bear in mind some caveat so
again it’s kind of been in and out of the WTO for decades Mexico does have a
conditional MSC certification on is yellowfin tuna fishery which is kind of
kind of interesting that they are able to receive that certification and
another issue is that despite that reductions in bycatch the three three
main species caught in this fishery have not actually recovered to the levels
that they that they once wore before the mid twentieth century so and that
scientists don’t really fully understand why it might be that their populations
were decimated to a certain level and might be that they’re shifting habitats
in terms of other prey but the stocks definitely are not at the levels that we
that we used to see so with that I want to quickly thank my host office for
exposing me to this issue and for their hard work that they have done on this
agreement for roughly fifty or so years and with that I will take questions um that’s a good question so we do you
need me to repeat that that question okay so the question was about with the
dolphin-safe label and I hope I’m getting this right this applies to all
countries implementing that or just with dolphin-safe label in the US yes they do
and I might actually phone a friend in the audience to answer some of this
that’s okay but um but so so yeah so other countries do have their on their
own labels so the labels that I showed earlier on so one label is the
Department of Commerce’s label that was required the left early on and they’re
safe too in response to those requirements and then the one on the
right is a IDC P’s label that came later on so so just within the context of ittc
there are different labels going on for both our domestic needs and other
international requirements and then yes and other other fisheries worldwide and
in other countries there are those same requirements I’m less familiar with what
other countries requirements are to their labels particularly for tuna
imports from other other tuna fisheries but um even if you look at can’t tuna in
other countries they have various labels as well Nina would you like to add
anything can I call on you sure yeah the u.s.
issue after the agreement then trafficking procedures came later for
that under that agreement and those trafficking procedures are for the AI
DCP and in hopes that they could get their product into the United States we
recognize our own requirements so they can label their to men’s only and all
these other things they just can’t bring it in three months we have a few questions online can you
briefly speak on the trade off this be success for dolphins and possibly a
failure for other species just rereading this that’s a great question and to be
completely honest I I don’t really know the answer to that at all it mostly
approaches from a dolphin focused dolphin focus issue but I do know there
are some concerns related to sea turtles in this fishery as well as bycatch of
juvenile tuna but I actually do not know the implications on other tuna fisheries
if anyone else in the audience does welcome you to chime in your graphic
starting in the mid 80s why did you not look back further into 70s where there
was more of a drop in according to the crank groups that’s a good question and
it really was just because I pulled the graphic to be completely honest from the
IIT TC website and that is what was on there and this was really just a
high-level policy approach to this so I was not calculating any of my own
numbers or anything but and I believe I don’t know why ittc chose to start that
at 1985 but it might just be because that’s when it was kind of really
picking up traction and ittc but that’s a good question and that
had that figure started in an earlier year it would be a much more drastic
decline but yeah really just because that was what came from the website and
left if you had a question that I did not
answer please resubmit can you expand a little more on the
WTO’s role you know nothing to enforce finding enforce inviting payments or
preventing one to cracks can you repeat that question please could you expand a
little more on the WTO’s role in either helping enforce a binding agreement or
preventing one yeah so the question was can you speak to the WTO’s role in
enforcing a binding agreement or preventing one from coming out and that
is also a very good question I would say that in terms of the WTO helping to
enforce it a binding agreement it kind of depends I would say it hasn’t really
helped enforce the binding agreement um mostly because largely what the WTO
cases have centered around our Mexico having some discrepancies with the u.s.
labeling laws by and large and it’s been a little bit separate I’d say from AI
DCP and then in terms of prevention I don’t think it prevented a binding
agreement from coming about as the parties were able to reach a binding
agreement but it might have kind of just added some depth to the conversation or
even maybe made it come about sooner in response to kind of leading to needing
to address what was coming out of the WTO you know do you want to add anything
if you were involved during this time yeah the Hanwha declaration was because
of the embargoes that’s fur and also the old dolphin-safe
labor movement heard this idea let’s come to the quiet agreement and then
let’s improve and love decoration but we were still kind of fighting in the early
90s the whole unilateral purchase that you must understand right now Protection
Act the WTO is all about the dolphin-safe label and not the
international agreement but and so what this happens we’ve spent decades now
Mexico the United States fighting this in the WTO probably to the tune of
millions of millions of dollars which could have gone to answering the
questions of our in-stock sir February and it it really kind of had a chilling
effect in the AIG CPE because countries kind of just went along with the
agreement and didn’t really take strong measures to improve it because they were
angry about that WTO lawsuits so we could have made more progress now that
it’s a perfectly that will change the climate but it really did just kind of
go good the law on its own after it was established. Thank you Nina. Thank you so much Brianna! [clapping]

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