The vaquita is the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise, found only in Mexico’s northern Gulf of California. Less than 80 individuals are believed to remain and in an effort to save them a rally will take place outside the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC, to bring attention to their plight as part of the International Save the Vaquita Day 2015.
The purpose of the rally is to thank the Mexican government for imposing a two-year gill net fishing ban and improving enforcement in the vaquita’s habitat, and urging the country make the ban permanent and increase enforcement measures.
Where – Mexican Embassy, 1911 Pennsylvania Ave NW
When – July 9, 2015, 8-10am
Nearest Metro station – Farragut West (blue, orange, silver lines)
What to wear – all participants will receive a free ¡Viva La Vaquita Marina! T-shirt (while supplies last)
What to bring – water, sunscreen, enthusiasm!
RSVP –[email protected]
Fishing gear is the biggest threat to vaquitas. They often drown after becoming entangled in shrimp nets or in illegal gillnets set for totoaba, an endangered fish that is also only found only in the Gulf of California. The totoaba’s swim bladder is illegally exported to Asia to make soup and
for unproven traditional medicine treatments. Demand for totoaba bladders has recently spiked, with a single bladder fetching up to US$14,000.
After years of international pressure, particularly from the scientific community, Mexico announced a two-year ban on most gillnets in the northern Gulf of California in April, and promised to increase enforcement action against the growing illegal totoaba fishery. While
Mexico’s actions are commendable, experts assert that a permanent ban on nets in the Gulf and rigorous enforcement of that ban are necessary to save the vaquita.
Groups have recently urged that the Gulf of California World Heritage site—designated as such largely to protect the vaquita and the totoaba—be officially declared “in danger” by the United Nations. There has also been an appeal to the Obama administration to impose trade sanctions
against Mexico to stop the country’s illegal totoaba fishery. That could include a prohibition on the import of shrimp from Mexico.
A new population survey for vaquita by US and Mexican scientists is scheduled to start in September, around the time that fishing activity, and consequently vaquita mortality, will be peaking. In all likelihood, the survey will produce disappointing news.