Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (07/30/1997)

International Dolphin Conservation Program Act - Amends the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to allow authorizations for the incidental taking of marine mammals during commercial purse seine yellowfin tuna fishing in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Removes provisions requiring that, for purse seine yellowfin fishing, the goal of reducing incidental kill or serious injury to insignificant levels approaching zero be satisfied by the best safety techniques and equipment economically and technologically practicable.

Modifies requirements regarding export by another nation to the United States of yellowfin tuna harvested with purse seine nets in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Exempts a U.S. citizen from the Act in specified circumstances. Changes requirements regarding the issuance of general permits for the taking of marine mammals.

Mandates negotiations to revise the Convention for the Establishment of an Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission regarding: (1) provisions in the Declaration of Panama and the Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks Agreement; and (2) a revised schedule of annual contributions to the Commission. Requires discussions with countries participating (or likely to participate) in the International Dolphin Conservation Program to identify funding sources for research and other measures promoting protection of marine species and the marine ecosystem.

(Sec. 5) Amends the Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act regarding the circumstances in which tuna products may be labeled "Dolphin Safe," including requiring certain statements by the vessel's captain (or in certain circumstances the captain and an observer). Directs the Secretary of Commerce to develop an official mark to label tuna products as dolphin safe and specifies the circumstances in which the mark may be used. Mandates implementing regulations, including regulations establishing a domestic tracking and verification program. Directs the Secretary to make findings regarding whether the intentional deployment on or encirclement of dolphins with purse seine nets is having a significant adverse impact on any depleted dolphin stock in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Sets forth circumstances in which the captain's and observer's statements must be that no dolphins were killed or seriously injured during the sets in which the tuna were caught.

(Sec. 6) Amends the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to declare that it is U.S. policy to support the International Dolphin Conservation Program and to ensure that the U.S. market does not act as an incentive to tuna harvesting that is not in compliance with the Program.

Removes existing provisions regarding: (1) international agreements establishing a global moratorium regarding certain tuna harvesting practices; (2) related research programs; (3) certain reviews, reports, and recommendations; (4) international commitments; and (5) permits for taking dolphins.

Directs the Secretary of State to seek a binding international agreement to establish an International Dolphin Conservation Program having specified features.

Mandates regulations to: (1) implement the Program; and (2) authorize and govern the incidental taking of marine mammals in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, including any species designated as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 but not listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Mandates, in certain circumstances, emergency regulations and a call for a special meeting of the Commission.

Mandates a study and report to specified congressional committees and the Commission on the effect of intentional encirclement (including chase) on dolphins and dolphin stocks incidentally taken during purse seine yellowfin tuna fishing in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. Requires that the study consist of abundance surveys and stress studies. Requires the undertaking or support of research to further the goals of the Program. Authorizes appropriations.

Mandates issuance of a permit to a U.S. vessel authorizing participation in the Program. Prohibits U.S. vessels from operating in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean yellowfin tuna fishery without such a permit. Authorizes permit sanctions for violations of prohibited acts provisions of the Act. Modifies the list of prohibited acts. Mandates criminal penalties for refusing to permit an authorized officer to board a vessel to search or inspect in connection with enforcement of provisions relating to a global moratorium to prohibit certain tuna harvesting practices.

(Sec. 7) Amends the Tuna Conventions Act to modify the composition of the U.S. representation on the International Commission for the Scientific Investigation of Tuna and the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission. Modifies requirements regarding a related advisory committee.

Directs the Secretary of State to seek to establish standards and measures for a bycatch reduction program for vessels fishing for yellowfin tuna in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.