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U.S. Department Of State
96/09/16 Statement: Sea Turtle Protection Agreement Reached
Office of the Spokesman

Press Statement By Nicholas Burns, Spokesman
September 16, 1996


On September 5, 1996, nations of the Western Hemisphere
reached an historic agreement to protect endangered species of
sea turtles.  The multilateral accord, concluded in Salvador da
Bahia, Brazil, reflects more than two years of negotiations
involving 23 countries from North, Central and South America,
as well as the Caribbean region.  It is the first international
agreement in the world strictly devoted to sea turtle

The agreement, formally known as the Inter-American
Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles,
requires a variety of significant actions for the benefit of
these endangered animals, which migrate widely through the
jurisdictions of many nations.  Countries joining the agreement
must prohibit the intentional capture or killing of sea
turtles, protect sea turtle habitat and nesting areas, and
reduce, to the greatest extent practicable, accidental harm to
sea turtles in the course of fishing activities.

In particular, the agreement requires the use of "turtle
excluder devices" (TEDs) on virtually all shrimp trawl vessels
operating in the region.  TEDs have proven to be extremely
effective in reducing the mortality of sea turtles during
shrimp fishing.

The agreement will enter into force when eight countries have
ratified it.  In the United States, ratification will require
Senate advice and consent to the agreement.

The protection of endangered sea turtles, like many
environmental goals, can only be achieved through strong
international cooperation of the kind represented by this
agreement.  The Inter-American Sea Turtle Convention should
serve as a model for the negotiation of other international
marine resource agreements.
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