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Mexican shrimp banned in U.S.

GULF OF MEXICO — Mexico is losing its certification to export wild-harvest shrimp to the United States because its trawls lack required protections for endangered sea turtles, the State Department said.

The department said the certification was withdrawn after the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service determined that Mexico’s turtle excluder devices no longer meet U.S. standards. U.S. rules require that exporters use excluders comparable to those used by American shrimpers.

Certification for Mexican shrimpers will be withdrawn on April 20. Mexico’s shrimp season will have closed by then for the summer.

The Endangered Species Act lists six of the seven sea turtle species as endangered or threatened. The State Department said proper exclusion devices can prevent turtle mortality in shrimp trawl nets up to 97 percent.

Mexico’s National Fisheries Council said late yesterday that it was working with U.S. experts to remedy the situation as soon as possible, and expressed hopes its shrimp fleets could be recertified following new inspections in August and September.

The council noted that the U.S. action applied only to shrimp wild-harvested in open ocean, which account for only about 20 percent of Mexico’s annual shrimp production. Most of Mexico’s shrimp are caught in shallow coastal waters or are farmed.

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