Environmentalists are making new waves over the issue of dolphins dying in tuna nets, accusing a U.S. canner of lying about its commitment to "dolphin-safe" policies.

The company, Bumble Bee Seafoods Inc. denied the allegations and said it was the target of a misleading campaign.Full-page advertisements placed in major newspapers by the San Francisco-based Earth Island Institute urged consumers to boycott Bumble Bee products, saying, "Alone among the three major canners, Bumble Bee has lied bout its corporate connection to the netting and drowning of dolphins."

On Friday, San Diego-based Bumble Bee, a subsidiary of Unicord Co. Ltd. and the nation's third-largest tuna canner, responded with its own ads saying Earth Island has "mounted a campaign against Bumble Bee which included false and misleading statements . . . It is time to set the record straight. Bumble Bee is dolphin-safe."

"We are being lambasted by Earth Island as they try to grandstand in the twilight of this issue to generate contributions," said Mark Koob, president of Bumble Bee. "And it's absolutely irresponsible."

In April, Bumble Bee, Starkist and Chicken of the Sea brands announced that they would no longer buy or sell tuna caught with dolphins. Environmentalists had estimated that more than 100,000 dolphins died each year in huge nets used to catch tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean.