Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, February 9, 2021


Alejandro Olivera, Center for Biological Diversity, +52 612 104 0604,
Ricardo Ruiz, Mexican Center for Environmental Law, +52 5559644162, ricardo_ruiz@cemda,

Treaty Commission to Scrutinize Mexico’s Loggerhead Sea Turtle Deaths

Mexican Government to Explain Lack of Enforcement

MONTREAL— An environmental body established under the NAFTA replacement, the newly negotiated United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, concluded that the deaths of hundreds of loggerhead sea turtles in Mexico due to fishing gear entanglement warrant a formal response from Mexico and further review under the treaty.

The decision, announced on Monday, responds to a petition filed by the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda) and the Center for Biological Diversity. The Commission for Environmental Cooperation formally accepted the groups’ submission, finding it meets all the requirements of Article 24.27 of the trinational USMCA agreement and deserves a formal response from the government of Mexico.

The petition presented official data from the Mexican government documenting that 889 North Pacific loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta) were found dead on beaches in the Gulf of Ulloa, Baja California Sur, between 2017 and 2019. Between January and June 2020, 351 more dead turtles were recorded.

“This is a big step toward holding the Mexican government accountable for failing to protect loggerhead sea turtles from this deadly threat,” said Alejandro Olivera, a senior scientist and Mexico representative of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Massive numbers of these endangered animals have been killed in recent years by entanglement in fishing gear. Now, under the new trilateral trade agreement, Mexican officials have a legal obligation to explain why they haven’t acted to stop the deaths.”

The groups filed their Submission on Enforcement Matters with the commission in December. The petition alleges that Mexico failed to effectively apply existing environmental law to protect the loggerheads.

“It’s undeniable that the Mexican government’s lack of enforcement led to a failure to protect the endangered loggerhead sea turtle,” said Mario Sánchez, Cemda’s representative in the northwest. “Now Mexico´s government will have to explain what they have done.”

As part of the CEC process, Mexico must now file an official response on the issue in April. The loggerhead bycatch problem will then be discussed by high-level environmental authorities from each nation. If the petition is accepted by those authorities, the commission will develop a detailed “factual record” that assesses Mexico’s compliance with its law.

Under U.S. law, if the commission finds Mexico is not in compliance with its environmental obligations, the U.S. may request official enforcement action under the trade agreement against Mexico.

Stranded loggerhead sea turtle at San Lazaro Beach, Baja California Sur, Mexico. Photo by Alex Olivera/Center for Biological Diversity. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

center locations