NEW YORK, DEC. 8 -- Environmentalists are making new waves over the issue of dolphins dying in tuna nets, accusing a U.S. canner of lying about its commitment to "dolphin-safe" policies.
The company, Bumble Bee Seafoods Inc., denied the allegations and said it was the target of a misleading campaign.
Full-page advertisements placed this week in major newspapers by the Earth Island Institute urged consumers to boycott Bumble Bee products, saying, "Alone among the three major canners, Bumble Bee has lied about its corporate connection to the netting and drowning of dolphins."
On Friday, Bumble Bee responded with ads saying the Earth Island statements were "false and misleading."
Environmentalists estimate that more than 100,000 dolphins die each year in huge nets used to catch tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean.
Unlike two other tuna canners that agreed in April to immediately stop buying or selling tuna caught with dolphins, Bumble Bee said it would take six months to phase out its contracts with boats that caught dolphins with tuna.
Bumble Bee used the six-month period "to buy a lot of cheap, dolphin-unsafe tuna" but still labeled its tuna "dolphin-safe," said Samuel LaBudde, an Earth Island biologist.
Mark Koob, president of Bumble Bee, replied that all Bumble Bee tuna labeled dolphin-safe was just that.