President Clinton signs Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles!

Date: October 13, 2000
Contact: Gary Appelson
Phone: (352) 373-6441

On October 12, 2000, President Clinton took the final step in U.S. approval of the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, an innovative treaty to protect threatened and endangered sea turtles. U.S. leadership was instrumental in negotiating this treaty, which promotes the protection, conservation, and recovery of sea turtles and their habitats throughout the Western Hemisphere. Other nations ratifying the Convention commit to adopting critical sea turtle protections like those in force in the United States for more than a decade.

Advancing Sea Turtle Conservation throughout the Hemisphere, the President signed the instrument of ratification for the Inter-American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, the final step in U.S. approval of the treaty. The Senate gave its advice and consent to ratification on September 20, 2000.

Sea turtles migrate extensively, and effective protection of these species requires cooperation among governments within their migratory range. The Convention requires parties to protect and conserve sea turtle populations and habitats, and foster international cooperation in the research and management of sea turtles; reduce the incidental capture, injury and mortality of sea turtles associated with commercial fishing; and prohibit the intentional take of, and domestic and international trade in, sea turtles, their eggs, parts, and products.

The Convention calls for member countries to adopt comprehensive measures requiring the use of Turtle Excluder Devices (TEDs) on all commercial shrimp trawl vessels. In the U.S., TEDs have been required since 1990. The Convention would prohibit international trade in sea turtles and their products, limit accidental and intentional capture of turtle), promote the conservation of sea turtle habitats and nesting beaches, and encourage cooperative research efforts on sea turtle populations and the threats they face. The Convention has received wide-spread support from international environmental organizations and the U.S. fishing industry.

With the President’s signature, the United States becomes the seventh nation to ratify and joins Mexico, Brazil, Coast Rica, Peru, and Venezuela in approving the treaty. This treaty signals broad international acceptance of rigorous U.S. standards, such as the use of turtle excluder devices in commercial shrimp fisheries. It also underscores the compatibility of U.S. trade and environment policy and U.S. commitment to protecting marine life. The treaty requires eight of the signatory countries to ratify before it enters into force.

The treaty, once it enters into force, will serve to upwardly harmonize protective sea turtle legislation among signatory nations. CCC has long recognized the need for international cooperation among sea turtle range states for effective conservation. Since 1994, CCC has been promoting a tri-national agreement between Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama for the collaborative management of Caribbean sea turtles, the green turtle in particular. The so-called “Tripartite Agreement” calls for the three nations to work jointly on regional management planning and implementation for the conservation of sea turtles, with the full participation of all stakeholder groups. While the Tripartite agreement imposes no restrictions on sea turtle use itself, it could serve as a vehicle for the implementation of the IAC in the western Caribbean sub-region. Costa Rica and Panama have already signed the agreement and are proceeding to obtain funding for the management planning process.

You can access the entire IAC document.

The Sea Turtle Conservancy, formerly known as the Caribbean Conservation Corporation, is a not-for-profit, 501(c)3 organization based in Florida with offices and projects in several other locations. The Sea Turtle Conservancy is the oldest and most accomplished sea turtle organization in the world. Since its founding in 1959, the Sea Turtle Conservancy’s work has greatly improved the survival outlook for several species of sea turtles. The Sea Turtle Conservancy has as its mission the protection of sea turtles and the habitats upon which they depend. To achieve its mission, the Sea Turtle Conservancy uses research, habitat protection, public education, community outreach, networking and advocacy as its basic tools. These tools are applied in both international and domestic programs focusing on geographic areas that are globally important to sea turtle survival. For more information, visit the STC website or call (800) 678-7853.