The U.S. Department of State is committed to the protection of sea turtles around the world. Each year, the Department of State, acting on authority delegated by the President, certifies to Congress that governments and authorities of shrimp-harvesting nations and economies have programs to reduce the incidental taking of sea turtles in shrimp trawl fisheries that are comparable to the United States, or that their particular fishing environments do not pose a threat of the incidental taking of sea turtles.
This certification program allows for the importation of wild-caught shrimp into the United States, pursuant to Section 609 of Public Law 101-162 (“Section 609”). This year, the Department certified 37 nations and one economy and granted determinations for nine fisheries as having adequate measures in place to protect sea turtles while harvesting wild-caught shrimp or having fishing environments that do not pose a threat of the incidental taking of protected sea turtles in the course of such shrimp harvesting. Annual certifications and determinations are based in part on overseas verification visits by a team composed of Department of State and NOAA Fisheries representatives.
Six of the world’s seven species of marine turtles are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. government provides technology and capacity-building assistance to other nations to contribute to the recovery of sea turtle species and help them meet the standard for certification under Section 609. The U.S. government also encourages legislation like Section 609 in other nations to prevent the importation of shrimp harvested in a manner harmful to protected sea turtles.
For more information on the Certification to Congress, please see the Federal Register Notice published on May 25, 2023. For more information on U.S. government sea turtle conservation efforts, please visit the websites of the State Department’s Office of Marine Conservation, NOAA Fisheries, and the Fish and Wildlife Service.
For press inquiries, contact OES-PA-DG@state.gov.