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Certifications Pursuant to Section 609 of Public Law 101-162; Relating to the Protection of Sea Turtles in Shrimp Travel Fishing Operations

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On April 27, 2002, the Department of State certified, pursuant to section 609 of Public Law 101-162 (“Section 609”), that 17 nations have adopted programs to reduce the incidental capture of sea turtles in their shrimp fisheries comparable to the program in effect in the United States. Start Printed Page 32079The Department also certified that the fishing environments in 24 other countries and one economy, Hong Kong, do not pose a threat of the incidental taking of sea turtles protected under Section 609. Shrimp imports from any nation not certified were prohibited effective May 1, 2002 pursuant to Section 609.

Effective Date: On Publication.

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David Hogan, Office of Marine Conservation, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Department of State, Washington, DC 20520-7818; telephone: (202) 647-2335.

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Section 609 of Public Law 101-162 prohibits imports of certain categories of shrimp unless the President certifies to the Congress not later than May 1 of each year either: (1) That the harvesting nation has adopted a program governing the incidental capture of sea turtles in its commercial shrimp fishery comparable to the program in effect in the United States and has an incidental take rate comparable to that of the United States; or (2) that the fishing environment in the harvesting nation does not pose a threat of the incidental taking of sea turtles. The President has delegated the authority to make this certification to the Department of State. Revised State Department guidelines for making the required certifications were published in the Federal Register on July 8 1999 (Vol. 64, No. 130, page 36946, Public Notice 3086).

On April 27, 2002, the Department certified 17 nations on the basis that their sea turtle protection program is comparable to that of the United States: Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Panama, Suriname, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela.

The Department also certified 24 shrimp harvesting nations and one economy as having fishing environments that do not pose a danger to sea turtles. Sixteen nations have shrimping grounds only in cold waters where the risk of taking sea turtles is negligible. They are: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Uruguay. Eight nations and one economy only harvest shrimp using small boats with crews of less than five that use manual rather than mechanical means to retrieve nets, or catch shrimp in using other methods that do not threaten sea turtles. Use of such small-scale technology does not adversely affect sea turtles. The nine nations and one economy are: the Bahamas, China, the Dominican Republic, Fiji, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Oman, Peru and Sri Lanka.

The Department of State has communicated the certifications under Section 609 to the Office of Trade Program of the United States Customs Service.

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Dated: April 29, 2002.

David A Balton, Acting

Deputy Assistant Secretary, For Oceans and Fisheries, Department of State.

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[FR Doc. 02-11901 Filed 5-10-02; 8:45 am]