The Department of State protects sea turtles around the world through its certification program, which allows for the importation of wild-caught shrimp into the United States pursuant to Section 609 of Public Law 101-162 (“Section 609”). Each year the Secretary of State (or his delegate) 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.
This year, the Department certified 35 nations and one economy and granted determinations for twelve fisheries as having adequate measures in place to protect sea turtles while harvesting wild-caught shrimp. Annual certifications are based in part on overseas verification visits by a team composed of State Department and National Marine Fisheries Service 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 is currently providing technology and capacity-building assistance to other nations to contribute to the recovery of sea turtle species and help them certify 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.