3 Major Tuna Companies Are Being Sued for Allegedly False 'Dolphin-Safe' Labels
Three of the biggest tuna companies are coming under fire over their fishing practices.
According to NBC News, a class-action suit filed by U.S. consumers on Monday states that the packaged tuna brands Bumble Bee Foods, StarKist, and Chicken of the Sea all have labeled their products as “dolphin safe,” but contends that this is not the case.
The consumers say that the three companies have been using fishing techniques that kill or harm dolphins, such as fishing nets that can catch dolphins and other marine life that isn’t tuna. Other, more expensive brands use the more environmentally-friendly method of pole-and-line fishing, which catches tuna individually, according to Vox.
If true, the false labels would violate the laws of numerous U.S. states, including California, New York, and Florida.
“Because defendant does not adequately trace or otherwise identify the tuna that is not ‘Dolphin-Safe’ and physically segregate and store it separately from any tuna that may be ‘Dolphin-Safe,’ defendant may not label any of its products as ‘Dolphin-Safe,” the complaint against StarKist stated, according to NBC News.
Starkist told PEOPLE that it does not comment on ongoing legal matters, but a representative shared that the company is “committed to protecting the dolphins” and reiterated their current policy.
“StarKist will not purchase any tuna caught in association with dolphins,” reads the policy. “StarKist continues its practice of refusing to purchase tuna caught with gill or drift nets, which are known to be dangerous to many forms of marine life. StarKist condemns the use of these indiscriminate fishing methods that trap dolphins, whales, and other marine life along with the intended catch of fish.”
Bumblee Bee and Chicken of the Sea did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’S request for comment.
StarKist is also being accused of violating federal racketeering law by knowingly doing business with foreign fishing companies whose practices do not meet national dolphin-safe standards.
False labeling on products of this type was banned in 1990 by the Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act.