US Authorizes Wild-caught Shrimp Imports from Mexico and others, Bans Malaysia

US Authorizes Wild-caught Shrimp Imports from Mexico and others, Bans Malaysia

The US Department of State is all about diplomacy, but did you know that it also has a small but influential role in regulating shrimp imports? It’s true! The department bans imports from foreign shrimp fisheries that do not meet the US standard for protecting sea turtles. Thematically, the law is similar to the Marine Mammal Protection Act’s import prohibition, which allows NOAA to ban imports from fisheries that harm marine mammals than the US does in its domestic fisheries.

To make these determinations, officials from State Department travel the world evaluating the need for and use of sea turtle escape hatches on (called Turtle Excluder Devices) attached to fishing nets. The department publishes a yearly update of the countries that are allowed to export their wild-caught shrimp to the US for one of these reasons:

  1. their waters are too cold for sea turtles (e.g. Canada, Norway);
  2. they exclusively use fishing methods that are not harmful to sea turtles (e.g. Costa Rica, Peru);
  3. they use fishing gear that can kill sea turtles, but the observed rate of sea turtle deaths from these fisheries is not worse than what the US observes in its domestic fisheries (e.g. Colombia, and a few specific shrimp fisheries in Australia).
    Every country and fishery not authorized by State Department is banned by default from importing its wild-caught shrimp to the US.

Last week the department released its 2023 update, which we compared to its 2022 list and found the following changes:
Wild-caught shrimp is now allowed from: Mexico, Hong Kong, and Estonia.
Wild-caught shrimp is no longer allowed from: Malaysia.

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