The US has backed down from its 12-year trade battle with Mexico over the latter’s tuna fishing practices.

The US has redefined Mexico’s tuna fishing technique of chasing – and netting – dolphins to lead its fishermen to tuna schools as having “no significant adverse impact” on Pacific Ocean dolphin populations, reported BBC Online.

Mexico had threatened to take the dispute to the World Trade Organisation, but the US’ recent decision will now enable a resumption in Mexican tuna exports.

Environmentalists have not welcomed the decision. The Earth Island Institute, an environmental pressure group, has reportedly accused the Bush administration of “selling out dolphins in order to reward Mexican tuna millionaires”.

“The National Marine Fisheries Service has determined that depleted dolphin populations are not recovering in the Eastern Tropical Pacific, and that the cause is almost certainly… the deadly nets of the tuna fishing industry,” the group was reported by BBC Online as saying.