Sunday, October 17, 2010

International Environmental Law: U.S. Government Certification of Mexico Sea Turtle Conservation and Shrimp Imports

Mexico United States The U.S. Department of State has certified Mexico under Section 609 of United States Public Law 101-162, a law that prohibits the import of shrimp and shrimp products harvested in ways that may adversely affect some sea turtle species. This certification is based on a determination that Mexico’s turtle excluder devices (TEDs) program is comparable in effectiveness to the U.S. program.

The United States and Mexico have been working in close cooperation on sea turtle conservation as well as a range of bilateral fisheries and marine conservation issues of importance to the two Nations. The Government of Mexico implemented a plan of action in the past several months to strengthen sea turtle conservation in its shrimp trawl fisheries. This plan of action represents significant improvements in the use of turtle excluder devices by its fishing industry. The U.S. government’s decision regarding Mexico’s certification means that wild-harvested shrimp from Mexico’s commercial trawl fisheries now may be imported into the United States.

The shrimp and shrimp products importation prohibition does not apply when the Department of State certifies to Congress that the government of the harvesting nation has taken measures to reduce the incidental taking of sea turtles in its shrimp trawl fisheries, such as through the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs), or that the fishing environment of the harvesting nation does not threaten sea turtles. This law has proven to be an effective conservation method to protect endangered sea turtles species by encouraging foreign governments to regulate the use of well-designed and installed turtle excluder devices. Other countries are currently assessing TED technology and the United States assists those efforts through technology transfers and capacity building in the hope that more countries can contribute to sea turtle species recovery and be added to the certified list.

(Information provided by the U.S. State Department)

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