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. However, State has decertified China and Venezuela, thus imposing new restrictions on imports of shrimp from those countries.
Section 609 prohibits the importation of wild-caught shrimp or products from shrimp harvested with commercial fishing technology unless State certifies to Congress that (1) the harvesting nation has adopted a regulatory program governing the incidental taking of relevant species of sea turtles in the course of commercial shrimp harvesting that is comparable to the program in effect in the U.S. and has an average incidental take rate comparable to that of the U.S. or (2) the particular fishing environment of the harvesting nation does not pose a threat of the incidental taking of sea turtles in the course of shrimp harvesting. State makes certifications annually and bases them in part on verification visits to exporting countries.
Certified Nations. On April 24, 2020, State certified 13 nations as having sea turtle protection programs comparable to that of the U.S.: Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Gabon, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Panama, and Suriname.
In addition, State certified 25 nations and one economy as having fishing environments that do not pose a danger to sea turtles. Of these, the Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Oman, Peru, and Sri Lanka 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.
State has suspended the certifications of (1) China due to the use of shrimp harvesting methods that may adversely affect sea turtles and (2) Venezuela due to the inability to confirm whether its shrimp harvesting methods may adversely affect sea turtles.
A Seafood Source article said this suspension means that wild-caught shrimp from China and Venezuela is now “ineligible to enter the U.S. for sale.” As a result, “only shrimp harvested through aquaculture” in those two countries will be allowed into the U.S., although such shrimp “will be subject to a Food and Drug Administration import alert, leaving it open to detention without any physical examination when imported into the U.S.”
A completed form DS-2031, Shrimp Exporter’s/Importer’s Declaration, must accompany all shipments of shrimp and shrimp products from these countries.
Uncertified Nations. For shrimp and products of 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 following areas are eligible for entry under this provision. The importation of TED-caught shrimp from any other uncertified nation will not be allowed.
- Australia: northern prawn fishery, Queensland East Coast trawl fishery, Torres Strait prawn fishery
- French Guiana: domestic trawl fishery
- Malaysia: Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, and Johor fisheries
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 in the Spencer Gulf region in Australia
- shrimp harvested with mosquito nets in South Korea
- Mediterranean red shrimp harvested in the Mediterranean Sea by Spain
- shrimp harvested with shrimp baskets in Hokkaido, Japan
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.
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