Mexico: Protect the Endangered Vaquita
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Sponsor: The Rainforest Site
While the Mexican government has promised to take action to protect this endangered species, illegal fishing and other activities continue to pose a threat. Take action for the vaquita!
Sign the petition and help save the Vaquita from Extinction
The vaquita, a small porpoise found only in the Gulf of California, is on the brink of extinction. There may be as few as eight of these animals left, and they cannot be captured, held, or bred in captivity1. Unfortunately, the use of illegal gillnets to catch the totoaba fish, whose swim bladder is a delicacy in China, has caused many vaquitas to drown as well2.
Responsibility to save the Vaquita
The Mexican government has been slow to respond to this crisis, promising action but failing to follow through3. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) recently called for a ban on trade with Mexico for products linked to sensitive species, as punishment for continued fishing in the vaquita protection zone. However, this ban was lifted following an agreement with Mexico4.
While Mexico has promised to take action to protect the vaquita, including controlling the landing and launching zones for fishing boats, implementing alternative fishing techniques, and monitoring boats with a GPS system, experts remain skeptical. Many boats are still fishing illegally in the vaquita's habitat, and the government has failed to post regulatory or enforcement officers at docks and boat launch sites5.
Without immediate action, the vaquita may soon disappear forever.
The Importance of the Vaquita
The vaquita is the world's smallest and most endangered cetacean. It plays a vital role in the ecosystem of the Gulf of California, which is one of the most diverse and productive marine regions in the world6. If the vaquita disappears, it could have devastating consequences for the entire ecosystem7.
What Needs to Be Done
To save the vaquita, the Mexican government must take immediate action to enforce fishing regulations in the vaquita's habitat. This includes:
- Controlling the landing and launching zones for fishing boats
- Implementing alternative fishing techniques that do not harm the vaquita
- Monitoring boats with a GPS system to prevent illegal fishing
- Posting regulatory or enforcement officers at docks and boat launch sites
The vaquita cannot wait any longer. It's time to take action to protect this endangered species before it's too late.
Help us ask Mexican government to live up to its promise to save the vaquita. Sign the petition now to call on the President of Mexico and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources to take immediate action to protect the vaquita from extinction.
- Gabrielle Canon, The Guardian (12 February 2022), "There are fewer than 10 tiny vaquita porpoises left. Can they be saved?"
- Vanda Felbab-Brown, Brookngs (14 September 2020), "Illegal fishing in Mexico and policy responses."
- The Associated Press (14 April 2023), "Experts doubt Mexico's pledge to protect endangered porpoise."
- ABC News (27 March 2023), "Group bans some trade with Mexico over endangered porpoise."
- Sarah Uhlemann, Kari Birdseye, Marjorie Fishman, Alejandro Olivera, Center for Biological Diversity (11 August 2021), "USMCA Commission Urged to Investigate Mexico’s Failure to Protect Vaquita Porpoise."
- The Marine Mammal Center (2023), "Vaquita."
- Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky, William Whittenbury, Journal of Marine Animals and Their Ecology (2015), "Why the Extinction of the Vaquita Should Matter to All of UsA Teenager's Perspective."
To the President of Mexico and the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources,
We, the undersigned, are deeply concerned about the ongoing decline of the vaquita, the world's most endangered marine mammal, and urge the government of Mexico to take immediate and comprehensive action to protect this species and uphold promises made to CITES.
The vaquita population has declined by more than 90% in the past few decades, with only an estimated 10-20 individuals remaining in the wild. The primary threat to their survival is illegal fishing of the totoaba, a large fish that is also critically endangered, whose swim bladders are highly valued in the black market for their supposed medicinal properties in China.
The Mexican government has made commitments to protect the vaquita through a range of measures, including increased enforcement, stronger regulations on fishing practices, and a program to compensate fishermen for not using gillnets in the vaquita's habitat. However, progress has been slow and inadequate, and the vaquita's population continues to decline.
We call on the Mexican government to immediately and fully implement measures to protect the vaquita, including:
- Strengthening enforcement efforts to crack down on illegal fishing and trafficking of totoaba swim bladders;
- Prohibiting all gillnet fishing within the vaquita's habitat;
- Providing alternative livelihoods for local fishermen that do not rely on gillnet fishing;
- Increasing public awareness campaigns to educate local communities about the importance of protecting the vaquita and the totoaba;
- Investing in research and monitoring efforts to better understand the vaquita's ecology and inform conservation strategies.
We also call on the Mexican government to uphold its promises to CITES to protect the vaquita, including developing and implementing a comprehensive recovery plan and working with international partners to address the demand for totoaba swim bladders.
The vaquita is a unique and irreplaceable species that deserves urgent and sustained action to ensure its survival. We urge the Mexican government to act swiftly and decisively to protect the vaquita and uphold its commitments to conservation.