SOLOMONS TUNA COMPANY ENDORSES ‘DOLPHIN SAFE’

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By George Herming

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, Feb. 23) - Solomon Islands single fish exporter Soltai Company is included on a leading environmental organization’s list of verified "Dolphin Safe" tuna companies in the world.

A senior figure in the company confirmed this positive indication to Solomon Star yesterday.

The Soltai official said the company is aware of the negative implications that are likely to affect its canned tuna export overseas if it is unwilling to abide by global environmental requirements.

American-based Earth Island Institute, a leading protector of mammals in the world has successfully entered agreements with more than 300 tuna companies’ world wide, including Soltai.

[PIR editor’s note: Solomon Islands environmental activist Lawrence Makili heads the Earth Islands Institute office in Honiara and is responsible for all operations related to inspections of all tuna products that are affiliated with the Dolphin Safe tuna companies on the Institute’s worldwide list (read related story).]

The agreement means that "Dolphin Safe" labels will soon be introduced on canned tuna products destined to overseas markets.

"We will soon give accreditation to the dolphin safe label on our tuna products that will soon hit the European market," the official said.

He said European consumers are very sensitive on environmental issues and that requirement must not be avoided.

"We see this as a very useful marketing tool to sell our products. It is an advantage to draw more consumers because they would certainly know that our company is complying with safe environmental rules," the official said.

He said the requirement is agreed upon because the company has just signed a Memorandum of Agreement with Tri Marine International, an American company that will soon help Soltai export its tuna products to the European market.

[PIR editor’s note: Under the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding, Tri Marine will supply Soltai with the necessary equipment to process tuna into catering sized cans for the European market (read the story).]

"We don’t want to be left out. Although it may seem unnecessary, it is a useful marketing tool," he said.

Soltai has remained silent on the dolphin issue, but the company said it is happy with the government for addressing the controversial exporting of dolphins, which sparked international uproar two years ago.

"The dolphin issue is not our main problem, it’s a government issue. We do not tell the government to stop dolphin exports. But we are happy that there are no more problems hanging on us to export tuna products overseas," he said.

Earth Island’s unique International Monitoring Program maintains 12 staff members in seven countries around the world, who regularly inspect tuna in canneries, at dockside, and on board fishing vessels in order to assure consumers that the tuna they buy is truly dolphin safe.

Mark Berman of Earth Island Institute who was in Honiara last week said this is the largest private environmental monitoring program in the world.

"We maintain agreements with more than 300 tuna companies around the world, including all major tuna processors. These agreements pledge tuna companies to abide by the Earth Island international dolphin safe tuna standards of no encirclement of dolphins or other marine mammals during an entire fishing trip, no accidental deaths or serious injuries of any dolphins, and no use of drift gill nets," Berman said.

He said the definition of dolphin safe tuna is the most scientifically sound and the most widely accepted standard for protection of dolphins and marine life.

February 24, 2006

Solomon Star: http://www.solomonstarnews.com/

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