Text - Treaty Document: Senate Consideration of Treaty Document 105-48All Information (Except Treaty Text)

A Senate treaty document provides the text of the treaty as transmitted to the Senate, as well as the transmittal letter from the President, the submittal letter from the Secretary of State, and accompanying papers.

Text of Treaty Document available as:

For complete and accurate display of this text, see the PDF.

[Senate Treaty Document 105-48]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]



105th Congress                                              Treaty Doc.
                                 SENATE

 2d Session                                                      105-48
_______________________________________________________________________


 
               INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION ON SEA TURTLES

                               __________

                                MESSAGE

                                  from

                   THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES

                              transmitting

 INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION FOR THE PROTECTION AND CONSERVATION OF SEA 
     TURTLES, WITH ANNEXES, DONE AT CARACAS DECEMBER 1, 1996, (THE 
  ``CONVENTION''), WHICH WAS SIGNED BY THE UNITED STATES, SUBJECT TO 
                   RATIFICATION ON DECEMBER 13, 1996





 May 22, 1998.--Convention was read the first time, and together with 
the accompanying papers, referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations 
          and ordered to be printed for the use of the Senate


                         LETTER OF TRANSMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                                     The White House, May 22, 1998.
To the Senate of the United States:
    With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the 
Senate to ratification, I transmit herewith the Inter-American 
Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea Turtles, 
with Annexes, done at Caracas December 1, 1996, (the 
``Convention''), which was signed by the United States, subject 
to ratification, on December 13, 1996. I also transmit, for the 
information of the Senate, the report of the Secretary of State 
with respect to the Convention.
    All species of sea turtles found in the Western Hemisphere 
are threatened or endangered, some critically so. Because sea 
turtles migrate extensively, effective protection and 
conservation of these species requires cooperation among States 
within the sea turtles' migratory range. Although the 
international community has banned trade in sea turtles and sea 
turtle products pursuant to the Convention on International 
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the 
Convention I am transmitting is the first multilateral 
agreement that actually sets standards to protect and conserve 
sea turtles and their habitats.
    In section 609 of Public Law 101-162, the Congress called 
for the negotiation of multilateral agreements for the 
protection and conservation of sea turtles. In close 
cooperation with Mexico, the United States led a 3-year effort 
to negotiate the Convention with other Latin American and 
Caribbean nations. Once ratified and implemented, the 
Convention will enhance the conservation of this hemisphere's 
sea turtles and harmonize standards for their protection.
    I recommend that the Senate give early and favorable 
consideration to the Convention and give its advice and consent 
to its ratification.

                                                William J. Clinton.


                          LETTER OF SUBMITTAL

                              ----------                              

                                       Department of State,
                                         Washington, July 16, 1997.
The President,
The White House.
    The President: I have the honor to submit to you the Inter-
American Convention for the Protection and Conservation of Sea 
Turtles, with Annexes, done at Caracas December 1, 1996 (the 
``Convention''). The United States signed the Convention, 
subject to ratification, on December 13, 1996, in Caracas, 
Venezuela. I recommend that the Convention be transmitted to 
the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.
    All known species of sea turtles found in the Western 
hemisphere are threatened or endangered, some critically so. 
Because sea turtles migrate extensively, effective protection 
and conservation of these species require cooperation among 
States within their migratory range. Although the international 
community has banned trade in sea turtles and sea turtle 
products pursuant to the Convention on International Trade in 
Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (``CITES''), the 
Convention I am submitting is the first multilateral agreement 
that actually sets standards to protect and conserve sea 
turtles and their habitats.
    Congress called for the negotiation of multilateral 
agreements for the protection and conservation of sea turtles 
in Section 609 of the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and 
State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 
1990 (Public Law 101-162). In close cooperation with Mexico, 
the United States led a three-year effort to negotiate the 
Convention with other Latin American and Caribbean nations. 
Substantive negotiations on the Convention concluded on 
September 5, 1996, at a meeting in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil. 
The Convention, once ratified and implemented, will enhance the 
conservation of sea turtles and harmonize standards for their 
protection throughout the Western Hemisphere.
    More specifically, the Convention requires Parties to 
promote the protections and conservation of sea turtle 
populations and their habitats; to reduce the incidental 
capture, injury and mortality of sea turtles associated with 
commercial fisheries; to prohibit the intentional take of, and 
domestic and international trade in, sea turtles, their eggs, 
parts and products; and to foster international cooperation in 
the research and management of sea turtles. The Convention 
specifically obligates Parties to require the use of turtle 
excluder devices (``TEDs'') by commercial shrimp trawl vessels 
in a manner comparable to the requirements in effect in the 
United States. The Convention also includes provisions on 
monitoring and compliance.
    The following material reviews the salient aspects of the 
Convention.
    Article I defines certain key terms for purposes of the 
Convention. Article II of the Convention sets forth its 
objective, which is generally to promote the protection, 
conservation and recovery of sea turtle populations and of the 
habitats on which they depend. Article III prescribes the area 
of application of the Convention (``the Convention Area''), 
which is the land territory in the Americas of each of the 
Parties, as well as maritime areas of the Atlantic Ocean, the 
Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean with respect to which each 
of the Parties exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights or 
jurisdiction over living marine resources in accordance with 
international law, as reflected in the 1982 United Nations 
Convention on the Law of the Sea.
    Article IV of the Convention requires Parties to take a 
variety of measures to protect and conserve sea turtles and 
their habitats. Paragraph 1 contains a general obligation in 
this regard; paragraph 2 sets forth more specific obligations, 
which include, inter alia, prohibition of the intentional 
taking of sea turtles and of domestic trade in sea turtles, 
their eggs, parts and products; compliance with obligations 
under CITES relating to international trade in sea turtles, 
their eggs, parts or products; protection of sea turtle 
habitats; promotion of relevant scientificresearch and of 
efforts to enhance sea turtle populations to determine the feasibility 
of these practices; and minimization of incidental capture, retention, 
harm or mortality of sea turtles in the course of fishing activities.
    With respect to the prohibition on trade in sea turtles 
contained in Article IV(2) (a) and (b), it should be noted that 
all species of sea turtles that occur in the Western Hemisphere 
appear on Appendix I to CITES; international trade in such sea 
turtles by CITES Parties is thus banned. The Convention is 
crafted to reaffirm the CITES regime with respect to 
international trade, while also prohibiting domestic trade in 
sea turtles.
    Article IV(3) provides for certain exceptions to these 
obligations. Pursuant to Article IV(3)(a), a Party may allow 
exceptions to the obligations relating to the intentional 
capture, retention and killing of, and domestic trade in, sea 
turtles solely to satisfy economic subsistence need of 
traditional communities, provided such exceptions do not 
undermine efforts to achieve the objective of the Convention. A 
Party considering such exceptions must take into account 
recommendations of the Consultative Committee of Experts, 
established under Article VII. Such a Party must also establish 
a management program that includes limits on levels of 
intentional taking of sea turtles and report to the other 
Parties on this program.
    This exception would not directly affect the United States, 
as U.S. law prohibits the intentional taking of sea turtles, 
for subsistence use or otherwise. However, traditional 
communities in certain other States in Latin America and the 
Caribbean do take sea turtles intentionally. If the Convention 
had prohibited this practice, few such States would have become 
party to it. The Convention instead creates a regime in which, 
for the first time, such takings will be circumscribed and 
monitored.
    In addition, the Parties may, by consensus, approve 
exceptions to the other measures required to be taken pursuant 
to Article IV(2) to address circumstances warranting special 
consideration, provided that such exceptions do not undermine 
the objective of the Convention. However, the Parties may not 
approve any exception relating to Article IV(2)(b), which, as 
noted above, reaffirms obligations set forth in CITES. The 
intention in this respect is to ensure that it is clear that 
CITES takes precedence over the Convention with respect to 
decisions relating to international trade in sea turtles (and 
in sea turtle eggs, parts and products).
    Articles V through VIII of the Convention deal with 
institutional arrangements to help coordinate the 
implementation of the Convention by the Parties. Article V 
provides for regular and extraordinary meetings of the Parties 
to review implementation of the Convention and to consider 
further action, including the possibility of adopting 
additional conservation and management measures deemed 
appropriate to achieve the objective of the Convention. All 
decisions taken at such meetings, including the adoption of 
amendments to the Convention and to its Annexes, are to be 
adopted by consensus.
    Although the Convention does not establish a secretariat, 
Article VI calls upon the Parties to consider doing so at their 
first meeting and sets forth a list of functions that such a 
secretariat could perform. As with other decisions that the 
Parties may make at their meetings, a decision to establish a 
secretariat would need to be adopted by consensus.
    Article VII creates a Consultative Committee of Experts, 
composed of government officials and of representatives of the 
scientific community, the private sector and non-governmental 
organizations, to advise the Parties. This innovative feature 
is designed to ensure that the Parties will benefit from a 
broad spectrum of views and input in implementing the 
Convention and to provide a forum in which individuals 
representing a range of interests can develop common ground in 
making recommendations to the Parties on sea turtle 
conservation and protection. Although the Consultative 
Committee will have representatives of the scientific 
community, Article VIII establishes a separate Scientific 
Committee to allow for the provision of scientific advice 
directly to the Parties and to undertake scientific analyses at 
the request of the Parties.
    Article IX of the Convention obligates each Party to 
establish a program to ensure monitoring and observation of the 
measures to protect and conserve sea turtles set forth in the 
Convention. More generally, Article X requires each party to 
ensure effective compliance with such measures, while Article 
XI calls for the preparation and dissemination program of each 
Party.
    Articles XII-XIV seek to promote international cooperation 
and coordination in achieving the objective of the Convention, 
with a view in particular to helping developing States achieve 
better sea turtle protection and conservation. For years, the 
United States has promoted sea turtle protection efforts 
throughout this hemisphere, particularly by providing access to 
TEDs technology and by training foreign fishermen and fisheries 
managers in the construction and use of TEDs. We fully expect 
such efforts to continue. The Convention does not, however, 
require the Parties to make assessed contributions.
    Article XV requires the Parties, in implementing the 
Convention, to act in a manner consistent with the 1994 
Agreement Establishing the World Trade Organization and to 
endeavor to facilitate fisheries trade.
    Articles XVI-XX of the Convention address certain 
subsidiary matters. Article XVI requires that the Parties 
settle disputes that may arise under the Convention by peaceful 
means, but does not mandate recourse to any particular dispute 
settlement mechanism or forum. Article XVII contains two 
traditional safeguards clauses concerning the 
sovereignty,sovereign rights and jurisdiction of the Parties. Article 
XVIII obligates each Party to adopt measures in its respective national 
laws for implementation of the Convention and to ensure effective 
compliance. Article XIX seeks to encourage States that are not party to 
the Convention either to become Parties or otherwise to adopt laws and 
regulations consistent with the Convention. Article XX envisions the 
possibility that protocols to the Convention may be negotiated between 
States Parties to the Convention and States in other regions that are 
not eligible to adhere to the Convention for the purpose of promoting 
the protection and conservation of sea turtles in other regions of the 
world.
    Articles XXI-XXVII of the Convention are the final clauses. 
Pursuant to Article XXI, any State in the Americas may become a 
party to the Convention (in this regard, Article I(4) defines 
``States in the Americas'' as the States in North, Central and 
South America and the Caribbean Sea, as well as other States 
that have continental or insular territories in this region). 
Article XXII provides that the Convention will enter into force 
following the deposit of instruments of ratification by eight 
of these States.
    In accordance with Article XXIII, no reservations are 
permitted. Article XXIV provides that amendments to the 
Convention are to be adopted, by consensus, at meetings of the 
Parties and are to enter into force for all Parties following 
ratification, acceptance or approval by all Parties. However, 
as is the case for several other international agreements 
relating to living marine resources to which the United States 
is a party, Article XVI provides that amendments to the 
annexes, which are technical in nature, will become effective 
for all Parties one year following their adoption, also by 
consensus, at a meeting of the Parties, without the need for 
ratification, acceptance or approval. Article XXV provides for 
withdrawal from the Convention, and Article XXVII concerns 
authentic texts and certified copies of the Convention.
    Annex I lists the species of sea turtles to which the 
Convention applies.
    Annex II calls upon each Party to consider the adoption of 
additional measures to protect sea turtle habitats within its 
territory and in maritime areas with respect to which it 
exercises sovereignty, sovereign rights or jurisdiction.
    Annex III, which builds upon the provisions of Article 
IV(2)(h), obligates each Party to require shrimp trawl vessels 
subject to its jurisdiction that operate within the Convention 
Area to use TEDs. Annex III also provides the possibility for 
certain limited exceptions to this requirement and establishes 
a process for the development of more specific rules relating 
to the use of TEDs.
    Annex IV describes elements to be included in the annual 
reports prepared by the Parties in accordance with Article 
XI(1).
    Existing legislation, including the Magnuson-Stevens 
Fishery Conservation and Management Act, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1801 et 
seq., and the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. Sec. 1531 et 
seq., provide sufficient legislative authority to implement 
U.S. obligations under the Convention. Therefore, no new 
legislation is necessary in order for the United States to 
become party to the Convention.
    Accordingly, I recommend that the Convention be transmitted 
to the Senate as soon as possible for its early and favorable 
advice and consent to ratification.
            Respectfully submitted,
                                                Madeleine Albright.