Judge Finds Bush Commerce Department Put Politics Over Science in "Dolphin Safe" Tuna Actions
A federal judge has issued a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration by ruling that the Commerce Department allowed politics, not science, to determine whether to relax the "dolphin safe" label for tuna sold in the U.S.
In a harshly worded opinion, San Francisco-based U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson last month overturned an earlier Commerce Department finding that dolphins were not harmed by Mexican tuna boats when they encircled schools of tuna with purse seine nets.
The Commerce finding would have opened the way for the Mexican tuna industry to sell its catch in the U.S. and label it 'dolphin safe', despite the killing of thousands of dolphins annually by the fishery.
"Judge Henderson's ruling exposes the Bush administration's deceit in ignoring its own scientists...to allow dolphin-deadly tuna back into the U.S. with a phony label," said David Phillips, director of the Earth Island Institute, which brought the lawsuit along with eight other ogranizations. "Secret court documents proved that the government knew all along that netting dolphins was jeopardizing their survival."
Commerce Secretary Evans' claim of insufficient scientific evidence was undermined by Earth Island's discovery that some 300 government memos had been withheld
"The Bush administration went to amazing lengths to prevent Earth Island and the court from obtaining these damaging revelations," said Phillips.