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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Press Relations Office > Press Releases (Other) > 2005 > May
Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
May 4, 2005


Sea Turtle Conservation and Shrimp Imports

On April 28, the U.S. Department of State certified 37 nations and one economy as meeting the requirements set by Section 609 of Public Law 101-162 for continued importation of shrimp into the United States. Section 609 prohibits importation of shrimp and products of shrimp harvested in a manner that may adversely affect sea turtle species. This import prohibition does not apply in cases where the Department of State certifies annually to Congress, not later than May 1, that the government of the harvesting nation has taken certain specific measures to reduce the incidental taking of sea turtles in its shrimp trawl fisheries -- or that the fishing environment of the harvesting nation does not pose a threat to sea turtle species. Such certifications are based in part on verification visits made to countries by teams of experts from the State Department and the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service.

The chief component of the U.S. sea turtle conservation program is a requirement that commercial shrimp boats use sea turtle excluder devices (TEDs) to prevent the accidental drowning of sea turtles in shrimp trawls. The thirteen nations meeting this standard are: Belize, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Pakistan, Panama, Suriname, and Venezuela.

Twenty-four nations and one economy were certified as having fishing environments that do not pose a danger to sea turtles. Of these, eight nations and one economy -- the Bahamas, China, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Oman, Peru and Sri Lanka -- harvest shrimp using manual rather than mechanical means to retrieve nets, or use other fishing methods not harmful to sea turtles. Sixteen nations have shrimp fisheries only in cold waters, where the risk of taking sea turtles is negligible. They are: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Trinidad and Tobago and Cost Rica are currently uncertified.

Importation of shrimp from all other nations will be prohibited unless harvested by aquaculture methodology (fish-farming), in cold-water regions where sea turtles are not likely found, or by specialized fishing techniques that do not threaten sea turtles. If any of these situations apply, the shipment must be accompanied by a Department of State DS-2031 form signed by the exporter and importer and certified by a government official of the harvesting nation. Users should note that exception 7.A.(2) on the form "Harvested Using TEDs" is currently a valid exception to the prohibition on imports from nations not certified under Public Law 101-162. However, the Department of State must determine that a country wishing to use this exception has in place an enforcement and catch segregation system for making such individual shipment certifications. Presently, only Brazil and Australia have shown that they have a system in place for specific fisheries.

2005/467

Released on May 4, 2005

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