Dongwon Industries was sued on June 18 (local time) for allegedly being a co-defendant of StarKist Co., its U.S.-based subsidiary, in connection with a "dolphin protection rule." Dongwon Industries announced this on June 19 through the Korea Exchange's disclosure.
The 16 individual U.S. consumer representatives, including Warren Gardner, filed a petition with the California federal court on May 13 against StarKist, an affiliate of Dongwon Industries, Bumble Bee of the U.S., and other companies on charges of false advertising.
They attached a "Dolphin Safe" certificate to the tuna cans produced by the companies, but failed to comply with the dolphin protection rules stipulated by the certificate as a way to catch the fish.
The plaintiffs claim that the companies have been making such false indications on their products even though they killed or injured a considerable number of dolphins every year. If their claims are confirmed to be true, it would be a violation of the 1990 Dolphin Protection Consumer Information Act.
"Since Dongwon Industries and StarKist obtained the Dolphin Safe certification from the U.S.-based dolphin protection group EII, the tuna fishing method has been verified," a Dongwon official said. "The value of the suit has not been decided and we will respond to it in line with legal procedures in the future with StarKist."
StarKist is a U.S.-based affiliate of Dongwon Industries. Its net profit was 4.8 billion won last year with 854.9 billion won in sales. It is cited as one of the top three canned tuna distributors in the United States.