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Mexico Launches Drones to Save Endangered Vaquita

Agence France-Presse
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July 30, 2016
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This handout photo released by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) in Santa Clara Gulf, Sonora, Mexico shows a comparison between "Vaquita Marina" (bottom) (Phocoena sinus) and Totoaba fish (top) (Totoaba macdonaldi)

Mexico's government has launched three drones to back efforts to prevent illegal fishing activities that have led to the near extinction of the vaquita marina, the world's smallest porpoise.

The navy and the environment ministry this week unveiled the Arcturus T-20 unmanned aerial vehicle, armed with high-resolution cameras to police the upper Gulf of California day and night.

It is the latest step taken by the government to save the vaquita, a species found only in a small area of Mexico's northwest Gulf.

"There is a lot left to be done and time is a decisive factor," Admiral Vidal Francisco Soberon, the navy's chief, said. "We can't allow our seas to see another species disappear."

President Enrique Pena Nieto deployed navy ships in April 2015 to enforce a two-year ban on gillnets and increased the vaquita protection area tenfold to 13,000 square kilometers (5,000 square miles).

But a census released last May warned that there are only 60 of the sea creatures left, down from fewer than 100 in 2014 and 200 in 2012. Scientists fear the porpoise could vanish by 2022.

The vaquita's fate has been linked to a critically endangered fish, the totoaba, which is illegally caught for swim bladders that are dried and sold on the black market in China.

Read the rest at Daily Star

 

  Check out Deep Blue Conservancy

  Check out Ecological Group of Costa Verde

  Check out The Western Ecological Society

  Check out Association for Environmental Unity in Mexico


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