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International Bycatch Policy: Options for Sea Turtle Conservation

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image of The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law

This issue of bycatch, or the capture of non-target species, has grown in public profile, as well as both scientific and policy attention, over the last decade. Prominent within this arena has been the take of endangered sea turtles in shrimp trawls. Responses to this concern have concentrated on the use of gear modifications - namely turtle excluder devices, or TEDs - to reduce the take of sea turtles in nets. Though developed nearly 20 years ago, TEDs have not been broadly accepted by industry. This article traces the development and contemplates the efficacy of three legal and policy instruments for addressing the incidental capture of sea turtles in shrimp trawls on an international scale. The first of these is the use of market forces and consumer preference through a turtle-safe shrimp labelling scheme. The second is the policy of the United States to embargo shrimp imports from nations who do not use these devices. The final means is the creation of a negotiated regional agreement on sea turtle conservation including explicit provisions requiring the use of TEDs. In discussing the merits or otherwise of these policy options, a range of issues is considered including each measure's enforceability and its compatibility with provisions of the WTO regime.

Affiliations: 1: University of Wollongong, NSW, Australia


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