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102. Telegram, Secretary of State, to U.S. embassies throughout the wider Caribbean, regarding protection of sea turtles (May 3, 1991)


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SUBJECT: SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION PRESS RELEASE

1. ON MAY 1, 1991, THE DEPARTMENT ISSUED THE PRESS
RELEASE WHICH FOLLOWS (PARA 2) ON THE CONSERVATION OF SEA
TURTLES IN COMMERCIAL FISHERIES. ACTION POSTS SHOULD PASS
TEXT TO HOST GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.

2. BEGIN TEXT OF PRESS RELEASE.

THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE CERTIFIED YESTERDAY THAT THIRTEEN
COUNTRIES IN THE WIDER CARIBBEAN REGION HAVE TAKEN INITIAL
STEPS TO PROTECT SEA TURTLES FROM CAPTURE AND DROWNING IN
THEIR SHRIMP FISHING OPERATIONS. THE DEPARTMENT'S
CERTIFICATION IS REQUIRED UNDER A 1989 LAW (SECTION 609 OF
P.L. 101-162) THAT WOULD BAN THE IMPORT OF SHRIMP FROM ANY
COUNTRY NOT TAKING ADEQUATE MEASURES TO CONSERVE SEA
TURTLES IN COMMERCIAL SHRIMP FISHERIES. THE CERTIFICATION
BY THE DEPARTMENT IS VALID FOR ONE YEAR, WHICH WILL ALLOW
COUNTRIES TO FURTHER DEVELOP AND IMPLEMENT THEIR
RESPECTIVE PROGRAMS. BECAUSE A CERTIFICATION COULD NOT BE
MADE FOR SURINAME, SHRIMP IMPORTS FROM THAT COUNTRY ARE
PROHIBITED AS OF MAY 1, 1991.

U.S. LAW AND POLICY FOR THE PROTECTION OF SEA TURTLES
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PAGE 03 STATE 145355 031857Z
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SEA TURTLES AND SHRIMP SHARE SIMILAR HABITATS IN TROPICAL
AND SUB-TROPICAL WATERS AND, AS A RESULT, THE AIR
BREATHING TURTLES ARE OFTEN CAUGHT IN SHRIMP NETS AND
DROWN. THIS INCIDENTAL DROWNING HAS BEEN IDENTIFIED AS
THE PRINCIPAL THREAT TO THE SURVIVAL OF SEA TURTLES IN
U.S. WATERS. TO PROTECT TURTLES, U.S. SHRIMPERS ARE
REQUIRED TO USE A PIECE OF EQUIPMENT IN THEIR NETS CALLED
THE TURTLE EXCLUDER DEVICE (OR TED). THESE DEVICES HAVE
BEEN SHOWN TO BE EFFECTIVE IN ALLOWING MORE THAN 97
PERCENT OF ALL TURTLES THAT ENTER SHRIMP NETS TO ESCAPE
UNHARMED.

THE 1989 LAW IS INTENDED TO EXTEND THE PROTECTION GIVEN
TO SEA TURTLES UNDER THE U.S. REGULATIONS TO OTHER AREAS
THESE TURTLES INHABIT THROUGHOUT THE GULF OF MEXICO,
CARIBBEAN AND WESTERN CENTRAL ATLANTIC (THE WIDER
CARIBBEAN). THE COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY THE LAW ARE BELIZE,
BRAZIL, COLOMBIA, COSTA RICA, FRENCH GUIANA, GUATEMALA,
GUYANA, HONDURAS, MEXICO, NICARAGUA, PANAMA, SURINAME,
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, AND VENEZUELA. THE LAW PROVIDES
THAT, TO CONTINUE EXPORTING SHRIMP TO THE UNITED STATES
BEYOND MAY 1, 1991, A COUNTRY MUST RECEIVE A CERTIFICATION
THAT IT HAS MET SPECIFIC CONSERVATION REQUIREMENTS.

IN ORDER TO RECEIVE A CERTIFICATION, A COUNTRY MUST
EITHER PROVIDE EVIDENCE OF THE ADOPTION OF A REGULATORY
PROGRAM COMPARABLE TO THE UNITED STATES PROGRAM, OR
PROVIDE EVIDENCE THAT THE FISHING ENVIRONMENT IN ITS
WATERS DOES NOT POSE A THREAT TO SEA TURTLES. BECAUSE THE
USE OF THE TED IS THE CENTERPIECE OF THE U.S. REGULATORY
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PROGRAM, ITS USE WILL EVENTUALLY BE THE PRINCIPAL FEATURE
OF ANY FOREIGN PROGRAM DETERMINED TO BE COMPARABLE TO THE
U.S. PROGRAM. BY THE TIME THE PHASED-IN IMPLEMENTATION OF
THE FOREIGN PROGRAMS IS COMPLETED IN MAY 1994, THE NATIONS
AFFECTED BY THIS LAW MUST REQUIRE THE USE OF TEDS ON ALL
SHRIMP VESSELS OPERATING IN AREAS WHERE THERE IS A CHANCE
OF TAKING SEA TURTLES OR THEIR EXPORTS OF SHRIMP TO THE
UNITED STATES WILL BE EMBARGOED.

INTERNATIONAL DISCUSSIONS ON SEA TURTLE CONSERVATION
----------------------------------------------------
BEGINNING IN JANUARY 1990, OFFICIALS OF THE DEPARTMENTS
OF STATE AND COMMERCE BEGAN DISCUSSIONS WITH THE AFFECTED
COUNTRIES TO MAKE EACH OF THEM AWARE OF THE IMPORTANCE OF
TAKING THE NECESSARY MEASURES TO PROTECT SEA TURTLES.
THIRTEEN OF THE COUNTRIES AFFECTED BY THE LAW HAVE
INDICATED THEIR INTENTION TO ADDRESS THE PROBLEM OF
INCIDENTAL DROWNING AND TO DEVELOP PROGRAMS COMPARABLE TO
THE U.S. PROGRAM. SURINAME DID NOT PROVIDE THE
INFORMATION NECESSARY TO RECEIVE A CERTIFICATION AND, AS A
RESULT, SHRIMP IMPORTS FROM SURINAME TO THE UNITED STATES
ARE PROHIBITED EFFECTIVE MAY 1, 1991.

IN ADDITION TO ISSUING THE CERTIFICATIONS FOR COUNTRIES
WITH COMMERCIAL SHRIMP FISHERIES IN THE WIDER CARIBBEAN,
THE STATE DEPARTMENT EMPHASIZED ITS INTEREST IN AND
COMMITMENT TO SEEING EQUIVALENT MEASURES TO PROTECT SEA
TURTLES IMPLEMENTED ON THE PACIFIC COAST OF NORTH,
CENTRAL, AND SOUTH AMERICA, AND IN OTHER AREAS WHERE SEA
TURTLES ARE TAKEN INCIDENTAL TO COMMERCIAL SHRIMP FISHING
OPERATIONS. IN THIS REGARD, THE DEPARTMENT SPECIFICALLY
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RECOGNIZED THE EFFORTS OF MEXICO, COLOMBIA, AND NICARAGUA,
EACH OF WHICH HAS INDICATED THAT ITS SEA TURTLE PROTECTION
PROGRAM IN THE COMMERCIAL SHRIMP FISHERY WILL APPLY
EQUALLY TO THE ATLANTIC (GULF OF MEXICO AND CARIBBEAN) AND
PACIFIC COASTS.

THE DEPARTMENT HAS MADE CLEAR THAT IT IS COMMITTED TO
PROMOTING SUCH EFFORTS AND IS PREPARED TO STRENGTHEN ITS
OWN EFFORTS TO ENCOURAGE ACTIONS BY COUNTRIES IN THE
PACIFIC REGION AND THROUGHOUT THE WORLD TO DEVELOP AND
IMPLEMENT EQUIVALENT PROGRAMS TO THOSE REQUIRED IN THE
WIDER CARIBBEAN.

END TEXT OF PRESS RELEASE.

3. ACTION POSTS ARE REQUESTED TO PASS CONTENTS OF PRESS
RELEASE TO APPROPRIATE HOST GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS.
BAKER


UNCLASSIFIED





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