The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Only 60 Vaquita Left as World's Smallest Porpoise Slides Toward Extinction
Last year, I wrote how Mexico's plan for saving the vaquita, a small porpoise species found only in the northern part of the Gulf of California, was nothing more than a “roadmap for vaquita extinction." Late last Friday, well after there was any chance for the story to be part of last week's news cycle, the Mexican government issued a press release about its work to save the species. Buried far down in the release was the one number that tells you all you need to know about the status of the vaquita and the efficacy of Mexico's efforts to save it. There are only about 60 vaquitas remaining, down from the 100 that were living a little less than two years ago. Mexico's plan is not working.
Basically, about 40 percent of the vaquita population has disappeared at the same time that Mexico has been vigorously working to avert vaquita extinction. I'd hate to see what happens to a species on the brink that Mexico ignores.
Now, to be fair, other countries have a role to play and a responsibility to the vaquita. The U.S., for example, is a transit point for smuggling the fish (totoaba) that today is driving the vaquita's demise. Gillnets set by poachers to feed Chinese demand for totoaba swim bladders catch more than fish. They also entangle vaquita, which drown in the gear.
As part of many totoaba smuggling routes, the U.S. must do more to crack down on such trafficking. And the U.S. has a responsibility to offer assistance to Mexico. The vaquita's perilous condition is a direct result of the U.S. failing to implement a law that bans fish imports that do not meet U.S. standards for marine mammal protection. For years the U.S. knew that Mexico's shrimp fishery in the upper Gulf of California was harming the vaquita in excess of U.S. standards. Yet, vaquita-killing shrimp continued to flow into the U.S. in violation of federal law.
There is still time for the vaquita to recover and thrive if Mexico produces the right conditions: all fishing must be banned in vaquita habitat; the ban must be scrupulously enforced; and Mexico must work closely with other countries to secure the resources necessary to enforce a ban and to crack down on illegal trafficking and markets.
It's up to Mexico to decide if the vaquita will be on the path to recovery in a few years versus the road to extinction. I have no doubt Mexico can create the conditions necessary for vaquita recovery. It just has to choose that path.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Vice President Mike Pence sparked outrage on social media Saturday when he traveled in the first-ever motorcade to drive down the streets of Michigan's car-free Mackinac Island, HuffPost reported.
By Shawn Radcliffe
- As illnesses and deaths linked to vaping continue to rise, health officials urge people to stop using e-cigarettes.
- Officials report 8 deaths have been linked to lung illnesses related to vaping.
- Vitamin E acetate is one compound officials are investigating as a potential cause for the outbreak.
By Julia Conley
As organizers behind Friday's Global Climate Strike reported that four million children and adults attended marches and rallies all over the world — making it the biggest climate protest ever — they assured leaders who have been reticent to take bold climate action that the campaigners' work is far from over.
By Dan Gray
- Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
- A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
- It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.
New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.