Totoaba Poachers' Risky Tactics Endanger Vaquitas
Associated Press
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March 25, 2017

During a single patrol in Mexico’s Gulf of California, the crew of the M/V Farley Mowat encountered two dead whales, 24 dead dolphins, a dead sea lion, and countless dead birds. The near-extinct vaquita and the endangered totoaba is not the only victim of illegal fishing in these waters. (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society)

Mexican poachers are using go-fast boats, leading authorities trying to protect an endangered porpoise on 80km chases and parking pickup trucks on beaches to load boats and escape quickly.

Mexico’s environment department revealed some of the poachers’ risky tactics this week, describing a chase in which authorities detected a boat apparently fishing for totoaba in an area where gill net fishing is banned to protect the vaquita marina porpoise.

However, the crew escaped after leading a Navy boat on a 90km chase. The truck they were planning to use to haul their boat away got stuck in the rising tide.

The totoaba is prized in China for its swim bladder, but by-catch includes vaquitas, of which fewer than 30 remain.

The department said that over the last two years, it had seized 182 such open boats in the area, as well as 15 small trawlers and 40 vehicles in raids against illegal fishing in the upper Gulf.

Read the rest at NTNews

Related: Another Endangered Vaquita Porpoise Found Dead (Associated Press)

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