The New York Whale and Dolphin Action League




Effective November 21, 2014, dolphin-deadly-tuna - is OFF THE SHELVES, and will no longer be distributed by Wakefern Food Corporation, which comprises 356 stores in the US and Caribbean.

Through negotiations with NY4Whales, Supermarket Conglomerate,
WAKEFERN, and its banner stores, SHOPRITE, has pulled
dolphin deadly tuna from its shelves!

“No way!” was the reaction from NY4Whales’ members after receiving a tip that dolphin deadly tuna was available in at least one NYC metropolitan market. Although the market specified in the info from Earth Island Institute was not located, we decided to do a scan of the region. What we found was that one of the US’ largest supermarket chains, ShopRite, to our horror, still had Dolores Tuna, the product of the notorious Mexican dolphin-deadly fish processor, PINSA, on its shelves.

A review of ShopRite’s website showed the many rewards it has received for community efforts to relieve hunger, recycle, and respect the environment, esp. with the sale of only sustainable seafood:

“Recent Awards & Sustainability Efforts
In addition, 22 ShopRite Stores (Browns Superstores, Delaware Supermarkets and ShopRite of Cherry Hill, New Jersey) are now taking the Food Recovery Challenge and partnering with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to reduce food waste by recycling, composting and increasing food donations. In 2013, the ShopRite of Roxborough, Pennsylvania received USEPA’s national 'Food, Drug, Convenience Store' Award for successfully diverting 223 tons of food waste. The ShopRites of Cherry Hill received a national award from USEPA for cutting their total waste in half in the last 4 years!”

ShopRite seemed to be doing the “right thing” for the environment, in practice and in its community work. But in the case of dolphin deadly tuna, ShopRite still had a non-sustainable seafood problem, despite sincere efforts at responsible marketing:

“Sustainable seafood is caught or farmed using methods that consider the long-term vitality of the species as well as the oceans. The sustainable seafood movement discourages overfishing and environmentally destructive fishing methods....
In keeping with its seafood sustainability goals and until sustainable sources can be identified, Wakefern will not sell orange roughy, shark, blue-fin tuna and grouper because they are considered overfished.”

When we learned of this inconsistency and that dolphins were the victims of the tuna ShopRite was selling we immediately contacted them. We advised them that Dolores Tuna originated from fleets that still set nets on dolphins to catch the yellowfin tuna that swim beneath them, in defiance of the internationally-accepted Dolphin Safe standard, and that stores like Kroger and even Walmart have stopped selling it. After several discussions with management and the exchange of information, ShopRite agreed. Dolores Tuna would no longer be on ShopRite shelves.

During this investigation, NY4Whales also learned that ShopRite is one of the stores in the massive Wakefern food cooperative, which is the largest food retailer network in the US. We decided to bring the dolphin-deadly tuna issue to Wakefern, with hopes it might translate to its entire network of stores. Wakefern took the issue and our discussions to its management and marketing teams. After considering ShopRite’s independent decision and the information presented, the food giant came back with a decisive nod. As of November 21, 2014, ShopRite’s ban on Dolores would extend throughout the chain and network: Wakefern would cease all sales and distribution of Dolores Tuna. A total of 356 stores: 348 stores in 9 states in the US, and 8 stores in Bermuda. NY4Whales could not be happier! We are all glad that Wakefern has made the right decision, and that dolphins can breathe a little easier today.

We think this is “big!” We think removing dolphin deadly tuna from shelves in 356 stores around the world is a huge victory, while being a blow to PINSA, still trying to peddle this dolphin deadly product here in the states. Now shoppers can tout these stores to be dolphin-friendly, when it comes to the sale of tuna. Wakefern’s distribution network halting Dolores tuna sales includes:

SHOPRITE: 220 stores in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware, Pennsylvania and Maryland;
PRICERITE: 56 stores in Connecticut, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Maryland;
THE FRESH GROCER: 8 stores in Phila., PA, New Brunswick , NJ, Wilmington, DE;
GRISTEDES: at least 39 stores in New York City;
HEINEN’S FINE FOODS: 25 stores in Ohio and Illinois and
THE MARKET PLACE: 8 stores in Bermuda.

Thanks to the work of Earth Island Institute, the Dolphin Safe Tuna label gained widespread international implementation. Under this program, since the early 1990’s, dolphin bycatch has dropped dramatically - from roughly 80-100,000 to just 1,000-3,000 per year. ( In 2007 fewer than 900 dolphins were reported killed by the tuna fisheries, mainly in the eastern Pacific. Today, 90% of the global tuna catch is certified, carrying the Dolphin Safe logo. ( Wakefern’s giant network represented at least part of the remaining retailers who have not adhered to the Dolphin Safe Tuna standard in their products.

While we laud this achievement in blocking a huge market for dolphin-deadly tuna in the US and Caribbean, NY4Whales recognizes that another insidious, unregulated tuna fishing method has been invading our marine ecosystem. Fish Aggregating Devices (FAD’s) are artificial mostly drifting objects that may be made of fishing gear debris, buoys, logs fastened together, even tires and trash. Tens of thousands ply the oceans, acting as a magnet for nectonic organisms. Schools of fish are attracted to the floating materials, as they provide a sense of safety and shelter, a “hiding place” in open water. As smaller fish congregate, larger fish and predators follow. While tuna locate the FAD’s set out by tuna fishing fleets, so do bony fish, sharks, turtles, pinnipeds (seals and sea lions) even cetaceans. FAD’s may quickly become a mini-marine ecosystem in itself with both predator and prey in attendance in the never-ending quest for food and survival. But when the tuna is reeled out, purse seine nets take it all: an estimated 100 million tons of bycatch, ie., dead fish, from species throughout the marine food chain! The tragedy: by-catch-laden FAD’s have largely replaced dolphin netting in the pursuit of tuna. While dolphin-kills in the tuna-fisheries have dropped thanks to the Dolphin Safe methods and certification, bycatch losses of many species, including invertebrates, mobile crustations, triggerfish, billfish, non-target juvenile tuna, broadbills, rays, silky, green and oceanic white-tip sharks, sea turtles and more, have escalated. As tuna is harvested these non-target species are being hurled out of existence as the seas are emptied. This is a classic case of the unsustainable “netting takes all” problem while the entire marine environment suffers tremendous losses.

What is the answer to the problem of fishing for tuna? Just say “no” to tuna! Stop buying and consuming commercially-harvested tuna! Stop baking tuna casseroles and croquets! Stop feeding it to the cat! The marine ecosystem is one of the complex life-support systems of the earth and its inhabitants. Currently under assault from high acidity, climate change, pollution, geoengineering and other military technologies, global fisheries are on the verge of collapse everywhere. The “take it all,” “bycatch be damned” attitude prevailing in the world fishing industry has become a major contributor to the awful devastation in the marine environment.

There is much work to be done. Conservation organizations and elected officials must now work to officially reel in the FAD’s that are depleting the seas. Neither the great research and marine science organizations nor the activist NGOs have stopped the bycatch blight. It is not too late! NY4Whales will continue its work to locate and stop dolphin-deadly tuna sales across the globe, while supporting and contributing to efforts that stop the unsustainable consumption of bycatch-tainted commercially harvested tuna.

The New York Whale and Dolphin Action League
PO Box 273, Yonkers, NY 10707 USA
Phone: 914-793-9186
Fax: 914-395-0017
Cell Phone: 407-404-2046
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A Project of Cetacean Society International

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