The State Department has certified 39 nations and one economy as meeting the requirements of Section 609 of Public Law 101-162, thus allowing them to continue to export shrimp to the U.S.
Section 609 prohibits the importation of shrimp and products of shrimp harvested in a manner that may adversely affect sea turtle species unless State certifies to Congress that (a) the harvesting nation has adopted a program governing the incidental taking of sea turtles in its commercial shrimp fishery that is comparable to the program in effect in the U.S. and has an incidental take rate comparable to that of the U.S. or (b) the particular fishing environment of the harvesting nation does not pose a threat of the incidental taking of sea turtles. State makes certifications annually and bases them in part on verification visits to exporting countries.
Certified Nations. On May 1, 2017, State certified 13 nations as having sea turtle protection programs comparable to that of the U.S.: Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Gabon, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, and Suriname.
State was unable to certify Pakistan this year; as a result, no wild-caught shrimp or shrimp products harvested in Pakistan and exported after April 30, 2017, will be permitted entry into the U.S.
In addition, State certified 26 nations and one economy (the same as in 2016) as having fishing environments that do not pose a danger to sea turtles. Of these, the Bahamas, Belize, China, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Oman, Peru, Sri Lanka, and Venezuela only harvest shrimp using small boats with crews of less than five that use manual rather than mechanical means to retrieve nets, or catch shrimp using other methods that do not threaten sea turtles. Another 16 nations have shrimping grounds only in cold waters where the risk of taking sea turtles is negligible: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.
A completed form DS-2031, Shrimp Exporter’s/Importer’s Declaration, must accompany all shipments of shrimp and shrimp products from these countries.
Imports from Uncertified Nations. For shrimp harvested with turtle excluder devices in an uncertified nation to be eligible for importation into the U.S. under the exemption for shrimp harvested by commercial shrimp trawl vessels using TEDs comparable in effectiveness to those required in the U.S., State must determine in advance that the government of the harvesting nation has put in place adequate procedures to monitor the use of TEDs in the specific fishery in question and ensure the accurate completion of the DS-2031 forms.
At this time, State has determined that only shrimp and shrimp products harvested in the Northern Prawn Fishery, the Queensland East Coast Trawl Fishery, and the Torres Strait Prawn Fishery in Australia, or the French Guiana domestic trawl fishery, are eligible for entry under this provision. State was unable to make this determination this year with respect to the Exmouth Gulf Prawn Fishery in Australia, so no wild-caught shrimp and shrimp products harvested in that area and exported after April 30, 2017, will be permitted entry into the U.S. The importation of TED-caught shrimp from any other uncertified nation will not be allowed.
State has also determined that shrimp harvested in the Spencer Gulf region in Australia and with “mosquito” nets in south Korea, and Mediterranean red shrimp harvested in the Mediterranean Sea by Spain, as well as products from such shrimp, may be exported to the U.S. under the exemption for shrimp harvested in a manner or under circumstances determined not to pose a threat of the incidental taking of sea turtles.
All DS-2031 forms accompanying shrimp imports from uncertified nations must be originals with the appropriate box checked and signed by a responsible government official of the harvesting nation’s competent domestic fisheries authority.