NOAA 2004-086
Contact: Jim Milbury

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service published final regulations implementing the International Dolphin Conservation Program Act. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“These regulations contain very few substantive changes from the interim final regulations that have been in place since 2000,” said Bill Hogarth, director of NOAA Fisheries. “However these changes will ensure the continued integrity of the dolphin-safe labeling standard for tuna in the United States.”

This final regulation incorporates minor changes to the interim regulation, and responds to public and government comments. Tuna tracking and verification procedures and processes have been improved and updated to maintain consistency with the International Tuna Tracking and Verification Program and to aid NOAA Fisheries’ ability to sample tuna products in the U.S. market.

In addition, this regulation implements administrative changes pursuant to recent resolutions adopted by the Agreement on the International Dolphin Conservation Program. The final rule continues to allow the entry of yellowfin tuna into the United States from nations complying with the International Dolphin Conservation Program, allows U.S. vessels to set their purse seines near dolphins in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean, and ensures adequate tracking and verification of tuna exported from or sold in the United States that is purported to be dolphin-safe.

In the United States, yellowfin tuna harvested by large purse seine vessels in the ETP may be labeled dolphin-safe provided that no tuna were caught during the trip in which such tuna were harvested using a purse seine net intentionally deployed on or to encircle dolphins, and no dolphins were killed or seriously injured during the sets in which the tuna were caught.

On June 14, 1999, NOAA Fisheries published proposed regulations to implement the IDCPA, which was signed into law on August 15, 1997. On January 3, 2000, NOAA Fisheries published interim final regulations (65 FR 31) to implement the IDCPA .Public comments on the interim final rule were accepted through April 3, 2000.

NOAA Fisheries solicited input from the general public, industry representatives, environmental organizations, federal agencies and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. The agency received more than 800 comments and considered all of them in the development of the final rule.

NOAA Fisheries is dedicated to providing and preserving the nation’s living marine resources and their habitat through scientific research, management, and enforcement .NOAA Fisheries provides effective stewardship of these resources for the benefit of the nation, supporting coastal communities that depend upon them, and helping to provide safe and healthy seafood to consumers and recreational opportunities for the American public.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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