CIRVA is an acronym for Comité Internacional para la Recuperación de la Vaquita (International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita). CIRVA is an international team of scientists established by the government of Mexico. CIRVA was tasked with the development of a recovery plan for the vaquita based on the best scientific evidence available.

How many Vaquitas are left in the world in 2019?

The latest report by the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) estimates that only between 6 and 22 individuals remained alive in 2018. It is likely, however, that there no more than 10 vaquitas left. (For comparison, in 1997, the population was estimated to be about 600 individuals strong.) However, these estimates…

What efforts have been made to save the vaquita?

Since the vaquita was first described by science and shortly after declared “vulnerable” by the IUCN, numerous actions have been taken by the Mexican government to save the species. However, none of these actions have prevented the decline of the population.
A ban on gill-nets should have halted the decline, but gill-net fishing continues, with seasonal permits for a local species of fish, the corvina, and illegally for the totoaba.

What is the totoaba and how is it connected to the vaquita?

The totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi) is a large species of fish native to the Gulf of California in Mexico. Like the vaquita, it is listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species as “critically endangered”. Illegal fishing has driven this species to the brink of extinction and as the gill-nets used in this fishery allow…

Why are Mexico’s efforts to save the vaquita not effective?

Mexico has tried various things to help the vaquita population recover: it declared a refuge, later stepped up its efforts and banned gill-nets throughout the vaquita’s range, sending its navy and collaborating with NGOs for enforcement. But illegal fishing continues to this day. Totoaba are frequently found discarded in large numbers (only their swim bladders…