US State Department bars import of wild-caught shrimp from China, Venezuela

In a public notice posted to the Federal Register on 30 April, the U.S. Department of State announced that it is suspending the certification of wild-caught shrimp from China and Venezuela, making it ineligible to enter the U.S. for sale.

The suspension was in accordance with Section 609 of Public Law 101-162, which requires countries harvesting wild-caught shrimp in areas that contain sea turtles prove they have adequate laws regarding turtle excluding devices (TEDs). China’s certification was suspended due to “the use of methods of harvesting shrimp that may adversely affect sea turtles,” while Venezuela was suspended “due to the inability to confirm whether methods of harvesting shrimp may adversely affect sea turtles.”

As a result, only shrimp harvested through aquaculture in the two countries will be allowed into the United States. In addition, shrimp harvested through aquaculture will be subject to a Food and Drug Administration Import Alert, leaving it open to detention without any physical examination when imported to the U.S.

The suspension follows a request by the Southern Shrimp Alliance (SSA) to the State Department, asking the department to evaluate the country’s eligibility for Section 609 certification. The SSA subsequently submitted a paper to the department showcasing the conditions of turtle populations in Chinese waters, according to the group.

“The State Department’s announcement proves that the Section 609 program continues to play a vital role in improving conservation for endangered sea turtles throughout the world,” SSA Executive Director John Williams said in a release. “Through years of experience, the U.S. shrimp industry has developed and adopted proven commercial fishing methods that have dramatically reduced our impact on sea turtle populations. The suspension of certifications for China and Venezuela is an essential first step in convincing these foreign industries to adopt similar technology.”

Photo courtesy of Enrico Bargnani/Shutterstock


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