INTER-AMERICAN CONVENTION ON SEA TURTLESSenate Consideration of Treaty Document 105-48
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[Senate Treaty Document 105-48] [From the U.S. Government Publishing 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.