STUDY: NO PRACTICAL WAY TO ENSURE "DOLPHIN SAFE' TUNA FISHING

STUDY: NO PRACTICAL WAY TO ENSURE "DOLPHIN SAFE' TUNA FISHING

There is no practical way to end dolphin deaths from tuna fishing, and the drive for "dolphin safe" tuna could kill even more of the whale-like mammals, the National Research Council said in a report to Congress.

The council is an arm of the National Academy of Sciences.The council was asked by Congress to study how to curb the killing by identifying new methods for "dolphin safe" tuna fishing but warned this effort could backfire.

"The ban may even increase dolphin mortality if it drives boats out of the more closely regulated areas," it said.

Thousands of dolphins are trapped in tuna nets and drown each year.

Scientists studied fishing practices in the Eastern Tropical Pacific - thousands of square miles of ocean stretching from Mexico to Peru - where tuna and dolphins usually swim together.

They could not come up with a good alternative to the purse seining fishing method, which fisherman use to make their catch.

Since dolphins and tuna swim together, fishermen encircle the dolphins with nets to catch the tuna nearby. The sides of the net are pulled in like a drawstring, ensnaring everything in their path.