Earth Island Institute
The Earth Island Institute is non-profit environmental group founded in 1982 by David Brower. Located in Berkeley, California it supports activism around environmental issues through fiscal sponsorship that provides the administrative and organizational infrastructure for individual projects. As of 2010, Earth Island Institute's total net assets were $7.1 million.
Earth Island Journal
Earth Island Institute publishes a quarterly periodical entitled “Earth Island Journal.” Content is largely dedicated to investigative pieces and showcases environmental grassroots movements. The publication has received industry awards for “uncovering stories ignored by larger media outlets.” Funding for the journal is sustained through subscriptions and the Institute’s Green Journalism Fund.
Earth Island Journal has been published by the institute for 20 years. It includes environmental reporting and commentary from around the world.
Brower Youth Awards
Earth Island has presented the Brower Youth Awards, named for founder David Brower, to six young environmental leaders since 2000.
The Borneo Project
The Earth Island Institute has taken on a number of projects, one of which is The Borneo Project, at the helm, director Brihannala Morgan. The goal of the project is to provide international support for indigenous and locally led campaigns to protect rights in Borneo and to advocate for mechanisms that will support communities in conserving their forests.
In which case, it must be understood that The Borneo Project does not initiate its own campaigns, instead it respond to the needs of its local partners, and provide whatever support best suits their programmatic and campaign needs. This comes in the form of providing small grants, online actions, sign on letters, and international advocacy on forest and climate issues. The local partners and allies in Malaysia and Indonesia that The Borneo Project is in contact with include the Borneo Resources Institute (BRIMAS), Partners of Community Organisations (PACOS), Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM or Friends of the Earth Malaysia) and Uma Bawang Residents Association (UBRA).
Forest and Climate Policy
One of the ongoing programs that The Borneo Project is engaging on is the conservation of Earth's climate by supporting and working on the international policy Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD). In Borneo, forests are annually destroyed through logging or burning, the carbon that is released into the atmosphere is the climate-changing greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide. The destruction of forests is responsible for up to a fifth of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions – more than every plane, car, truck, ship, and train on the planet combined. REDD is an effort to reduce green house gases in Borneo and alleviate poverty in the communities who live in and rely on the Borneo forests.
REDD is currently only a small part of the global market for carbon, and REDD carbon credits are mostly sold to companies and people who are interested in reducing their emissions voluntarily.
Earth Island Institute is the standard-bearer for dolphin-safe tuna labeling in the United States. The organization works on behalf of the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to certify or reject domestic tuna as dolphin-safe.
Earth Island Institute sponsors a number of fledgling activist groups which it refers to as "Incubator Projects." Many have gone on to become independent 501(c)(3) organizations while others remain under the umbrella of the institute. For example, the Mangrove Action Project was originally part of the Earth Island Institute, but became a separate organization in March 2007. Projects include:
The 2013 Solomon Islands Dolphin Massacre
In January 2013, Fanalei villagers on the island of Malaita in the Soloman Islands slaughtered close to 900 dolphins in retaliation for a payment dispute with Earth Island Institute. The dolphin slaughter occurred after villagers refused to renew a memorandum of understanding with Earth Island Institute that expired in April 2012. Villagers claim EII promised them $2.4 million Solomon Island Dollars (about $335,000 U.S.) to stop trading dolphins and dolphin-derived products for two years, but only received $700,000.
Chairman Atkin Fakaia of a local villagers' association claimed that villagers had to kill the dolphins to trade the meat and teeth for money to survive in the local economy. Earth Island Institute Director Lawrence Makili accused the association of mishandling the first $300,000 invested under the original MOU. Makili accused the villagers' association of seizing funds and failing to distribute them.
Dolphin safe label
In an interview with Radio Australia last year, Mark Palmer of EII confirmed that it is mostly the case that EII monitors do not go on board of the vessels, and their organization does not have the kind of resources to put observers on the “many thousands” of ships that are out there catching tuna.
Additionally, environmental groups have criticized Earth Island Institute’s support of U.S. policies that do not require independent, on-board observation and instead only rely on self-certification by fishing captains, and that even where they may at some point in the future require independent observers, the lack of uniformity in tracing and verifying certifications in different countries means non-certified products can become certified if they are simply taken to the right port.
The program is additionally criticized for the broad confusion among U.S. consumers over the meaning of dolphin-safe labels. Studies suggest that as many as a quarter of U.S. consumers believe the term “dolphin-safe” means no dolphin meat is contained in the tuna can.
- "About Earth Island". Earth Island Institute. October 30, 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-04-29. Retrieved 2008-04-28.
- Earth Island Journal Archives from winter of 2002
- "New Leaders Initiative : Award Winners". Earth Island Institute. Retrieved May 7, 2009.
- "Earth Island Institute : Borneo Project". Earth Island Institute. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- "Who We Are : How We Work". The Borneo Project. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- "Why Borneo : Conserving our Climate". The Borneo Project. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- "Our Work Ongoing Programs : Forest and Climate Policy". The Borneo Project. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
- "The fairy tale of US "dolphin safe" labeling False claims, unintended consequences". July 1, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
- "EII On-board Observers, Ghosts?". July 1, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
- "Trade Dispute With Mexico Over 'Dolphin-Safe' Tuna Heats Up". July 1, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2014.