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Walmart Exposed for Selling Dolphin-Deadly Tuna

Seafood should be one of the healthiest food groups, but there are serious concerns about contamination and environmental impact. This has resulted in a growing awareness about the toxins and pollutants found in many seafood items. There are also long-standing concerns about the sustainability of current fishing methods. 

“Dolphin-safe” tuna labeling was established by the U.S. Department of Commerce in 1990. It is an issue that has resonated with American consumers for over 30 years. American companies selling in overseas markets are not bound by this statute and Latin American countries are noted for having weaker dolphin-safe regulations. 

The Earth Island Journal reports that Walmart is selling tuna that has been harvested using these “dolphin-deadly” techniques in the Costa Rican market. There was a time when it was legal to sell tuna in the U.S. that was harvested using methods that aggressively pursued and killed dolphins. Dolphins frequently swim with schools of yellow-fin tuna but as mammals they operate closer to the surface. As a result, they reliably indicate the presence of tuna schools and are easily targeted using unethical fishing methods.

The news that Walmart is possibly selling tuna that is not dolphin-safe serves as a reminder that when buying seafood you need to be aware of where it comes from. Dolphin-safe is closely monitored throughout much of the world but in some regions this abhorrent method is still used to increase profits.

Dolphin-safe is also not a definitive indicator of sustainability. In most respects, fish and shrimp farms are riddled with the same problems as land-based concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), which include disease-promoting overcrowding, unnatural diets and environmental pollution.

To make matters worse, there is a good chance you are not receiving the product that you paid for. Past studies revealed that 84 percent of white tuna sampled from U.S. retail outlets were actually escolar — a fish that can cause severe digestive problems. Seafood fraud is costing Americans $25 billion annually

Ironically, it is health conscious consumers who are driving demand for seafood and the boom market is likely responsible for unethical practices. Americans increased their seafood consumption by nearly 1 pound per person in 2015, to an average of 15.5 pounds per year, or just over 4.75 ounces per week. This marks the largest increase in seafood consumption in two decades. While this is good news, we still fall short of dietary recommendations, which call for 8 ounces of seafood per week.

Mercury levels can vary more than 100-fold from one species to another and wild-caught Alaskan and sockeye salmon are two of your best options. They’re among the lowest in terms of contamination, and highest in healthy omega-3 fat. The risk of sockeye accumulating high amounts of mercury and other toxins is reduced because of its short life cycle, which is only about three years. Additionally, bioaccumulation of toxins is also reduced by the fact that it doesn't feed on other contaminated, fish. The two designations you want to look for on the label are Alaskan salmon and sockeye salmon. 
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