Vaquitas are tiny cetaceans that live in the northern Gulf of California between mainland Mexico and Baja California. They are the smallest porpoises in existence, only reaching a maximum of five feet long and 120 pounds. Sadly, vaquitas are critically endangered as there only 10 are left in existence.
The vaquita population has rapidly declined, mostly due to getting trapped in illegal gillnets. While fishermen do not intend to catch these adorable sea creatures, they are one of the unintended victims, known as “by-catch.” Gillnets are technically illegal in the Sea of Cortez as it is a “zero-tolerance area” where fishing is strictly banned. However, Mexico recently decided to loosen its enforcement of these regulations.
According to AP New, on July 14th, Mexican officials announced that the upper Gulf of California would no longer be a “zero-tolerance area.” Instead, they will only fully enforce the fishing ban if there are more than 50 illegal boats in the area. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, with 20-50 boats, officials “will only commit 80% of its available enforcement capacity” and with less than 20 boats, they will only commit 60%. The new rule is especially concerning considering that officials already struggled to enforce the ban and protect marine animals prior to this change. Alejandro Olivera, a senior scientist with the Center for Biological Diversity, explained, “It’s sheer fantasy that Mexico will suddenly be able to enforce a more complicated ban on fishing under this new scheme.”
According to Zak Smith, a senior attorney at NRDC, “Mexico has implicitly telegraphed its intent to allow the vaquita to go extinct by continually embracing inadequate half-measures which have never been effectively implemented or enforced.” He continued, This latest announcement transitions Mexico’s stance to an explicit affirmation that the only way it sees out of its vaquita problem is the quick extinction of the species.”
Experts say that this change is essentially dooming the vaquita to extinction, and activists are outraged.
Sign this petition to demand the government of Mexico reverse course and protect the vaquita! They must fully enforce prohibitions on illegal boats and gillnets!
To continue speaking up, sign these other petitions as well:
- Save the Vaquitas
- Protect Endangered Dolphins
- Save Critically Endangered Species of Dolphins Native to New Zealand
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