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Protesters Claim Heinz Kills Dolphins

September 7, 1989

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Two protesters swinging on ropes from a building and about 50 other animal rights activists called on H.J. Heinz Co. on Wednesday to stop buying Pacific Ocean tuna caught in nets that also ensare dolphins.

But Heinz Chairman Anthony J. F. O’Reilly said his company wants to save dolphins, too, and will spend more than $100,000 on research to keep the mammals out of tuna nets.

The protesters, led by the San Francisco-based Earth Island Institute, picketed Heinz’s annual shareholders meeting at a downtown hotel, chanting, ″Boycott tuna. Boycott Heinz.″

Two protesters lowered themselves from a nearby eight-story building and unfurled a banner reading, ″Heinz, Stop Killing Dolphins,″ before police arrested them on disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and criminal mischief charges.

Another protester briefly disrupted the shareholders meeting by screaming, ″You’re slaughtering dolphins. What kind of world do you want to live in?″

Protesters and company officials agreed that thousands of dolphins are being killed when they school with yellowfin tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean and are caught in large, encircling nets set mostly by foreign fishermen.

Protesters claimed a boycott of tuna products has hurt Heinz’s StarKist Seafood Co. subsidiary and other tuna producers.

But Heinz, in its first-quarter earnings report issued Tuesday, credited tuna sales with contributing to a 15 percent increase in earnings.

O’Reilly told shareholders the killing of dolphins was ″a legitimate concern.″

″We’re doing everything we can to save the porpoise,″ O’Reilly said.

He said a new $100,000 research program, announced by StarKist on Thursday, promises to find ways of using sound to lure dolphins away or out of nets.

None of about 3,000 Heinz shareholders at the meeting questioned O’Reilly about the dolphin issue.

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