Wallace Nichols, A University Of Arizona Wildlife Ecology Doctoral Candidate, Holds Up A Black Sea Turtle At A Beach In Baja, Calif. The Turtle Is One Of Several Species Of Sea Turtle Threatened By Nets From Shrimp Boats
THE WTO AND ENDANGERED SPECIES. The fate of the giant sea turtle is tugged in a complex dispute between environmentalists and champions of free trade.
Amidst the turmoil around this month's meeting here of the World Trade Organization, the protests, the debate over free or fair trade - consider the giant sea turtle.
The hulking, antediluvians are a symbol of conflict between environmental laws and the free-trade agenda pursued by the Clinton administration and enforced by the WTO.
Turtles became players in the free-trade wars when U.S. efforts to protect them were caught up in history's most far-reaching free trade agreement: the 1995 creation of the WTO, a group of 135 countries that act as the supreme court on international trade policies.
The U.S. had been trying since 1991 to use the Endangered Species Act (ESA) to protect turtles internationally by banning imports of shrimp caught in nets not certified as turtle-safe. But a group of Asian countries in 1997 complained to the WTO that the environmental protection was really an illegal trade barrier.