Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Mexico Launches 'Risky' Vaquita Roundup to Prevent Extinction of Tiny Porpoise

Oceans
Mexico Launches 'Risky' Vaquita Roundup to Prevent Extinction of Tiny Porpoise
Thomas A. Jefferson

Wildlife officials in Mexico next week will attempt to capture and protect some of the last vaquita on Earth in a desperate effort to save these small porpoises from extinction. The operation in the Gulf of California, scheduled to begin Oct. 12, will use trained U.S. Navy dolphins to locate vaquita, whose numbers have dwindled by 90 percent in the past five years. Fewer than 30 remain alive today.

"We support this last-ditch effort to save the vaquita from extinction, but it shouldn't be used as an excuse to allow fishing to continue in its habitat," said Alex Olivera, the Center for Biological Diversity's Mexico representative. "These beautiful animals deserve to live free in the Gulf of California, but that will never happen until the Mexican government eliminates the illegal gillnet fishing that has driven these porpoises to the very brink of extinction."


As part of next week's operation, captured vaquita will be placed in pens in the Gulf to protect them from illegal fishing activities, which have led to the species' near demise. The hope is that, once protected, the porpoise will be able to breed and grow its numbers so that one day it might survive again in the wild.

"This risky option became the only option, but vaquita have never been captured alive before, so this effort is uncertain," Olivera said. "It's a high-stakes operation that's happening because the Mexican government has shown an inability to protect the animals in the wild. That has to change if the vaquita is to have any future."

The following steps are critical to safeguarding the vaquita:

  • Effective enforcement to halt all illegal fishing activities;
  • Extension of the "refuge area" in the Gulf of California to include all of the vaquita's habitat;
  • Prohibition of the possession and transportation of gillnets, as well as their use in commercial and artisanal fisheries, for any species and in any kind of vessel, within the "refuge area;"
  • Prohibition of the navigation of vessels during all night hours inside the "refuge area;"
  • The Mexican government should continue to support and fund the monitoring of the population until population recovery is assured in its habitat.

Earlier this year the Center for Biological Diversity and other conservation groups petitioned the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to ban imports of seafood caught with gillnets in Mexico's Upper Gulf of California in order to save the vaquita.

Colette Pichon Battle, attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy. Colette Pichon Battle

By Karen L. Smith-Janssen

Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

A palm tree plantation in Malaysia. Yann Arthus-Bertrand / Getty Images Plus

Between 2000 and 2013, Earth lost an area of undisturbed ecosystems roughly the size of Mexico.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A home burns during the Bobcat Fire in Juniper Hills, California on September 18, 2020. Kyle Grillot / AFP/ Getty Images

By Stuart Braun

"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."

Read More Show Less
A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world. PickPik

A new report from Oxfam found that the wealthiest one percent of the world produced a carbon footprint that was more than double that of the bottom 50 percent of the world, The Guardian reported. The study examined 25 years of carbon dioxide emissions and wealth inequality from 1990 to 2015.

Read More Show Less
The label of one of the recalled thyroid medications. FDA

If you are taking medication for an underactive thyroid, check your prescription.

Read More Show Less

Support Ecowatch