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World Is Making Last Push to Save Mexico's Vaquita

Darryl Fears - The Washington Post
go to original
October 3, 2016

Vaquita porpoise in Mexico is marine mammal on the brink of extinction. As of May, 2016, the population estimate is now 60 animals. (Chris Johnson)

This is how bad things have gotten for the world’s cutest little porpoise.

With only about 60 left, an international treaty of governments is making a last, desperate effort to save them because earlier measures haven’t worked.

The critically endangered vaquita continues to drown in the nets that fishermen drag through the Gulf of California in Mexico to catch a sea bass called totoaba. The fishing is illegal but highly profitable: A pair of totoaba bladders can fetch $8,500 in China, where they are prized as both a delicacy and in traditional medicine.

So last week the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species urged Mexico, the United States and China to work harder to end the trade of totoaba. Mexico is where they are caught. The United States is often where totoaba bladders, called maw, are trucked to ports. China is their final destination. CITES, as the convention is known, told the three governments to do a better job of sharing police information on seizures and busts to catch more criminals.

Although the CITES decision targets the totoaba - itself an endangered species - the real aim is to end the massacre of vaquitas. A stock assessment by a panel of international scientists estimated two years ago that fewer than 100 vaquitas were left and that their numbers were declining at a rate of nearly 20 percent a year.

Mexico has long had laws to protect the vaquita, which is Spanish for “little cow.” The question has been the degree of enforcement, according to U.S. marine officials who pushed the Mexican government to crack down harder on poaching. Mexico responded by pushing back - policing a delta full of impoverished fishermen hoping to cash in on sea bass to feed families isn’t easy.

Read the rest at NHRegister

Related: In May 2017, There Will be a Permanent Ban on Gill Nets in Vaquita Habitat (The Fulano Forum)

  Check out Deep Blue Conservancy

  Check out The Western Ecological Society

  Check out Ecological Group of Costa Verde

  Check out Association for Environmental Unity in Mexico

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