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. The list of those certified is unchanged from 2017.
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, 2019, 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.
In addition, State certified 26 nations and one economy 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; the French Guiana domestic trawl fishery; or the East Coast fishery of peninsular Malaysia (newly added this year) are eligible for entry under this provision. The importation of TED-caught shrimp from any other uncertified nation will not be allowed.
State has also determined that the following types of shrimp and products thereof may be imported into 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: shrimp harvested Spencer Gulf region in Australia, shrimp harvested with “mosquito” nets in South Korea, Mediterranean red shrimp harvested in the Mediterranean Sea by Spain, and shrimp harvested with shrimp baskets in Hokkaido, Japan (newly added this year).
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.