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Government To Seek Stay of Tuna Embargo Order

January 29, 1992

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ The Bush administration will ask an appeals court to block a federal judge’s order requiring the United States to broaden its embargo of foreign tuna, a government spokesman said Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson on Monday ordered the United States to ban tuna imports from any nation that buys tuna from Mexico or Venezuela if the tuna was caught by methods that also kill dolphins.

Dolphins swim above yellowfin tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Some commercial fleets use dolphin sightings to locate tuna schools and catch the dolphins along with the tuna.

Mexico and Venezuela have been subject to a court-ordered U.S. embargo since August 1990 because their tuna fleets kill dolphins at a rate above the level set by U.S. law. Henderson’s new order, effective Friday, would greatly expand the embargo.

Roddy Moscoso, spokesman for the National Marine Fisheries Service, said the administration would appeal Henderson’s order to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He said the government would ask both Henderson and the appeals court to block the order while the appeal is pending.

he said Henderson’s order was so broad that it could affect even nations that don’t deal in tuna caught by dolphin-killing methods.

David Phillips, executive director of Earth Island Institute, predicted the administration’s latest legal moves would fail.

″We’d be a lot more pleased if they’d spend their time enforcing the Marine Mammal Protection Act (rather) than trying to overturn it,″ he said.

Andres Rosenthal, Mexico’s deputy secretary for foreign relations, said Tuesday that Mexico would ask a panel of the international General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade to declare Henderson’s ruling to be a violation of GATT.

The same GATT panel ruled last August that the trade agreement was violated by the first embargo law, as interpreted by Henderson.