[Congressional Record Volume 143, Number 41 (Wednesday, April 9, 1997)]
[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E614-E615]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov]



                           HON. GEORGE MILLER

                             of california

                    in the house of representatives

                        Wednesday, April 9, 1997

  Mr. MILLER of California. Mr. Speaker, we are about to enter into 
another round of debate on legislation to weaken one of our most 
popular environmental laws. Why? Because a foreign government demands 
it, and has threatened to kill thousands of dolphins if we don't.
  During the last Congress, a small number of environmental groups 
secretly negotiated an agreement with Mexico and other Latin American 
nations to change the United States law assuring our children that the 
tuna they eat in their school lunches wasn't caught at the expense of 
dolphins. That deal was then presented to the Congress as take it or 
leave it, no amendments allowed--because Mexico wanted it that way, 
because Mexico has charged that we are flouting the rules of 
international free trade.
  Is this where free trade principles have brought us? To a demand that 
we either open our markets to Mexican tuna or they'll slaughter even 
more dolphins?
  There has to be a better way. And there is.
  Today I am introducing the Dolphin-Safe Fishing Act, alternative 
legislation that would reward fishermen of other nations who choose not 
to kill dolphins by allowing their tuna to be sold in the United States 
under the famous ``Dolphin Safe'' label. Unlike other legislation on 
this issue, my bill would resolve the current trade dispute with Mexico 
without weakening United States laws.
  The Dolphin-Safe Fishing Act would allow tuna to be sold in the 
United States by nations whose fishing fleets continue to reduce 
dolphin deaths beyond last year's mortality level of just over 2,700 
animals. By contrast, other legislation promoted by foreign tuna 
interests would authorize the deaths of more than 5,000 dolphins next 
  Countries who wish to sell their tuna in our market would have to be 
certified by the Secretary of Commerce as not being involved in the 
transport of illegal drugs. The need for this provision has been 
established in recent articles in the Latin American and United States 
press and in testimony before Congress.
  For example: At least 275 tons of cocaine transit the eastern 
tropical Pacific Ocean every year.
  In July 1995, a Panamanian tuna vessel was caught off the coast of 
Peru with more than 12 tons of cocaine. This vessel was registered to a 
fishing company, Pesquera Azteca, owned by Colombian Cali Cartel drug 
trafficker Jose Castrillon Henao.
  In August 1996, a Honduran-registered fishing ship crewed by 
Colombians and Ecuadoreans was seized off the Colombian coast with 2 
tons of cocaine
  In January 1997, a Mexican fishing vessel was intercepted off 
Mexico's Pacific coast carrying 3.5 tons of cocaine.
  In September 1996, Manuel Rodriguez Lopez, owner of Grupo Pesquero 
Rodriguez, which includes tuna companies in Baja California, Mexico, 
was placed under house arrest on charges of money laundering. Among the 
assets confiscated during his arrest were six tuna fishing vessels. 
Rodriguez also owns four other fishing companies believed to be 
involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.
  Given the recent vote of this body on decertification of Mexico as a 
partner in the war against drugs, and the ongoing press articles across 
the country about the ways in which free trade actually contributes to 
the sale of illegal drugs in the United States, we cannot allow 
legislation to pass this body that would further feed the Mexican drug 
  The Dolphin-Safe Fishing Act also strengthens the meaning of the 
dolphin-safe label by ensuring that no tuna caught by chasing, netting, 
killing, or seriously injuring marine mammals can be called ``dolphin 
safe''. H.R. 408, by contrast, would allow dolphins to be chased and 
netted without limits--a practice prohibited by the Marine Mammal 
Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act--and permit that tuna to 
be deceptively labelled ``safe'' for dolphins.
  The Dolphin-Safe Fishing Act specifically addresses by-catch problems 
in the tuna fishery by requiring that all threatened and endangered 
species, such as sea turtles, be released alive, and requires fishing 
nations to adopt a by-catch reduction program to reduce the harvest of 
nontarget species.
  Finally, the bill expresses the Sense of the Congress that each 
nation participating in the tuna fishery should contribute an equitable 
amount to the expenses of the Commission that overseas this fishery. 
Currently, the United States pays more than 90 percent of the expenses, 
although the United States has the smallest eastern Pacific tuna 
fishing fleet. The United States also houses the Commission, rent-free, 
in a waterfront property in La Jolla, CA, which would generate 
approximately $500,000 annually for the Treasury.
  The Dolphin-Safe Fishing Act is supported by a coalition of more than 
80 environmental consumer protection, and labor organizations, 
including the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, Public Citizen, the 
National Consumers League, Humane Society of the United States, the 
National Family Farm Coalition, the International Brotherhood of 
Teamsters, the Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers International, and Clean 
Water Action.

[[Page E615]]

  The Dolphin-Safe Fishing Act is the responsible way to respond to 
concerns about the tuna trade, and I urge my colleagues to get the 
facts before they support any other legislation.