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Shrimp Import Prohibition Legislation for Marine Turtle Conservation

Turtle escaping from a net equipped with a Turtle Excluder Device (TED).
Turtle escaping from net equipped with a Turtle Excluder Device (TED)
Photo: NOAA

Shrimp Imported into the U.S.

Public Law 101-162 prohibits the importation to the United States of shrimp harvested with commercial fishing technology that may adversely affect sea turtles. P.L. 101-162, Section 609, was 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 U.S.--i.e., require and enforce the use of turtle excluder devices (TEDs)--or to fishing nations where incidental capture does not present a threat to sea turtles (e.g., nations that fish in areas where sea turtles do not occur).

The U.S. Department of State (DOS) is the principal implementing agency of this law, while NOAA Fisheries serves as technical advisor.


Nations that seek to import shrimp into the U.S. must be certified to meet the requirements of P.L. 101-162 on an annual basis. The 2013 annual certification published on May 2, 2013 (78 FR 45285). Approximately 40 countries are currently certified to export shrimp to the U.S. Although most certifications are done on a national basis, DOS certification guidelines allow for import of individual shipments of TED-harvested shrimp from uncertified countries.

DOS and NOAA Fisheries inspect portions of a nation's shrimp trawl fleet for adequate use of TEDs. NOAA Fisheries has provided extensive TED training throughout the world.

The Guidelines for the Implementation of Section 609 of P.L. 101-162 Relating to the Protection of Sea Turtles in Shrimp Trawl Fishing Operations [pdf] were revised in 1999 (64 FR 36946).

Updated: April 14, 2014

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