January 10th, 2014
08:45 AM ET
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Zak Smith is an attorney with the marine mammal protection project at the Natural Resources Defense Council in Santa Monica, California.

Did you know that buying American seafood could save a whale?

A new report from the Natural Resources Defense Council finds that 91% of seafood consumed in the United States is imported and nearly every wild-caught foreign fish product sold in the U.S. violates the Marine Mammal Protection Act, endangering the lives of marine mammals around the world.

Countries exporting fish to America are supposed to prove they use safe methods to catch fish destined for the U.S. market. But for decades the U.S. has failed to enforce this law. That means whales, dolphins and sea lions are at risk, and American fishermen who invest in safer methods have a disadvantage in the marketplace.

It works like this. Commercial fishing fleets target species for the global market, including American consumers. They go after the seafood we love to eat like shrimp, salmon, tuna, crab, and lobster, setting traps and casting gillnets, purse seines, trawls and longlines. But in the course of catching the target species, they often entangle, trap and hook other animals like non-target fish, seabirds, sea turtles and marine mammals. It's a tragedy for those animals caught in the wrong place and the wrong time - collateral damage that may cause some populations to go extinct.

There are ways to reduce this harm. Until the U.S. enforces the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which requires importing countries to prove they are meeting American standards, consumers can play a role in protecting whales, dolphins and sea lions. When making sustainable fish purchases consider helping marine mammals by buying American-caught wild seafood.

Read - Eat fish, kill a dolphin?

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soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Thinking things through

    Canadian-caught wild seafood I would think would be as good as the American caught in this regard?

    January 11, 2014 at 8:15 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      China, Canada, and most especially Japan all fish in US waters. It's all the same. I will eat Canadian fish, 'cause it's good.

      January 13, 2014 at 1:40 am |
  2. Devlin

    Would love to hear how lobster & crab fishing affects whales. Do the whales really try to squeeze into tbose tiny traps sitting on the bottom..........

    January 10, 2014 at 3:10 pm |
    • JellyBean

      W T H ?

      January 10, 2014 at 3:21 pm |
  3. Jdizzle McHammerpants ♫♫

    Whales scare the sh!t out of me.

    January 10, 2014 at 12:59 pm |
    • RC@Jdizz

      It's the Flying Spaghetti Monsters that scare me.......

      January 10, 2014 at 1:14 pm |
      • Jdizzle McHammerpants

        I hope you're joking.

        January 13, 2014 at 1:37 am |
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