US State Department bans imports of Mexican wild-caught shrimp

Published on
May 6, 2021

The U.S. State Department on Friday, 30 April announced in the Federal Register that it has suspended Mexico’s commercial shrimp fishery from exporting wild shrimp into the country because Mexico’s efforts to protect sea turtles are “no longer comparable to that of the United States.”

As a result, the only Mexican shrimp that can enter the U.S. must come from aquaculture operations.

The U.S. took similar action against China and Venezuela last year.

Federal law prohibits the U.S. from accepting wild-caught shrimp imports unless federal officials certify that either the trading country has adopted measures to protect sea turtles and that the rate of incidence is comparable to U.S. fishing vessels or that the way the country’s shrimpers harvest shrimp does not threaten sea turtles.

“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,” SSA Executive Director John Williams said in a statement. “As populations of Kemp’s ridley, green, and loggerhead turtles rebound, the Section 609 program has become even more important for international conservation efforts.”

According to the Associated Press, Mexican officials said they required its fishermen to put turtle excluding devices on nets, but in wake of the U.S. action, it will take additional measures and require more training.

According to Mexican agriculture officials, the State Department announcement comes at the same time as Mexico’s commercial harvesting season ends.

“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,” Williams said.

Countries whose wild-shrimp harvesting practices were approved by the State Department are: Argentina, certain fisheries in Australia, The Bahamas, Belgium, Belize, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, French Guiana, Gabon, Germany, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, Ireland, Jamaica, Japanese shrimp baskets in Hokkaido, South Korean mosquito nets, certain fisheries in Malaysia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Norway, Oman, Panama, Peru, Russia, Spanish Mediterranean red shrimp, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay.  

Photo courtesy of Shane Myers Photography/Shutterstock 

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