Panama city played host early October to 6 Latin American nations, these nations sought to adopt a new code of conduct for their tuna fishing fleets that would drastically reduce the number of dolphins killed, and persuade the us Congress to lift a ban againt tuna imports from their countries. The six nations - Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Panama have been hard hit ever since the us Congress passed a Marine Marnmals Protection Act in 1988, and decreed an embargo in 1990 against tuna imports from countries that trapped dolphins in the process of fishing for tuna.

The new agreement, which is expected to be translated into a full fledged international treaty later this year, has won plaudits from environmental groups. Says David Schou, a World Wide Fund for Nature spokesperson, "If there were a strong, binding, permanent international regime that guaranteed the continued protection of dolphins and their eco-system, it would then be appropriate for the us to lift its embargo against tuna imports."

However David Phillips, a campaigner against dolphin killings in the 1980s fears dolphin deaths could rise, and criticises the agreement's definition of "dolphin-safe products."

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