Shrimp Import Legislation for Sea Turtle Conservation
Shrimp harvested with commercial fishing technology that may adversely affect sea turtles may not be imported into the United States.
Shrimp harvested with commercial fishing technology that may adversely affect sea turtles cannot be imported into the United States per Public Law 101-162, Section 609 enacted on November 21, 1989 (16 U.S.C. 1537).
The import ban does not apply to nations:
- that have adopted sea turtle protection programs comparable to that of the United States—that is, require and enforce the use of turtle excluder devices—or
- where incidental capture does not present a threat to sea turtles (for example, nations that fish in areas where sea turtles do not occur).
The U.S. Department of State is the principal implementing agency of this law, while NOAA Fisheries serves as technical advisor.
The most recent certification was published on April 30, 2020 (85 FR 24074). Nations that seek to import shrimp into the United States must be certified annually to meet the requirements of Public Law 101-162.
Approximately 40 countries are currently certified to export shrimp to the United States. Although most certifications are done on a national basis, State Department guidelines allow for import of individual shipments of TED-harvested shrimp from uncertified countries.
The State Department and NOAA Fisheries can, if requested, inspect portions of a nation's shrimp trawl fleet for adequate use of turtle excluder devices.
In addition, NOAA Fisheries has provided extensive turtle excluder device training throughout the world.
The Guidelines for the Implementation of Section 609 of Public Law 101-162 Relating to the Protection of Sea Turtles in Shrimp Trawl Fishing Operations (PDF, 7 pages) were revised in 1999 (64 FR 36946).