The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has issued a final rule updating the requirements for voluntarily labeling tuna as dolphin-safe. Under the updated rule, tuna products intended for labeling as dolphin-safe must be accompanied by a certification from the captain of the vessel that harvested the tuna and a certified and qualified observer that no purse seine net was intentionally deployed on or used to encircle dolphins during the fishing trip in which the tuna were caught and that no dolphins were killed or seriously injured in the sets in which the tuna were caught. NMFS will announce determinations that an observer is qualified and authorized in future Federal Register notices.

The purpose of the rule amendments is to bring the dolphin-safe labeling requirements into compliance with U.S. international trade obligations, in response to a ruling by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Appellate Body that the current requirements violate the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade.

The effective date of the final rule is July 13, 2013. Through January, 1, 2014, NMFS will conduct education and outreach programs for industry on the provisions of the rule.