In a Federal Register notice published Friday, the U.S. Department of State announced that it was suspending the certification made, pursuant to Section 609 of Public Law 101-162, of the commercial shrimp fishery in Mexico. In its announcement, the State Department explained that the agency suspended Mexico’s certification because “its sea turtle protection program is no longer comparable to that of the United States.”
The State Department’s action this year follows the agency’s suspension of the certifications previously granted to the People’s Republic of China and Venezuela in 2020. In the absence of a certification from the agency, “only shrimp harvested from aquaculture is eligible to enter the United States.”
In February, the Southern Shrimp Alliance petitioned a federal interagency committee to provide further breakouts in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) that would distinguish between imports of wild-caught shrimp and imports of shrimp that was farm-raised. While this request remains pending, if adopted, the Southern Shrimp Alliance believes that these more specific breakouts within the HTSUS would substantially improve the enforceability of the Section 609 program.
“Through years of experience, the U.S. shrimp industry has developed commercial fishing methods that have been proven to dramatically reduce any impact on sea turtles,” said John Williams, the Executive Director of the Southern Shrimp Alliance. “As populations of Kemp’s ridley, green, and loggerhead turtles rebound, the Section 609 program has become even more important for international conservation efforts. The Mexican industry’s response to the State Department’s announcement proves that access to the United States market provides vital leverage to improve the environmental practices of foreign commercial fishing industries.”
Read the April 30, 2021 Federal Register notice, “Annual Certification of Shrimp-Harvesting Nations,” here: https://shrimpalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/Section-609-Certification-Shrimp.pdf
Read more about the State Department’s Section 609 certification program administered by the Office of Marine Conservation here: https://www.state.gov/key-topics-office-of-marine-conservation/sea-turtles-shrimp-imports-and-section-609/