Turtle Island Restoration Network signed onto a letter with other conservation groups to protect the world’s most endangered marine mammal – the vaquita. The vaquita is a critically endangered porpoise.
The report of the fifth meeting of the Comité Internacional para la Recuperación de la Vaquita (CIRVA V) put forth strong recommendations that, if heeded, will give the greatest chance of recovery for the critically endangered vaquita, a small porpoise found only in the northern waters of the Gulf of California. The CIRVA V report makes clear that with fewer than 100 individuals remaining, declining at 25%/year, time is indeed running out. This recovery is not Mexico’s responsibility alone, in fact coordinated work on the part of the Mexican government with the governments of China and the United States will be required if the recommendations are to be fully and successfully implemented.
Representing numerous US-based non-governmental organizations that share a common mission for ocean stewardship and conservation, we implore you to work with these nations to support the implementation of the recommended actions of CIRVA V, and to do so expeditiously.
The cause of the decline of the vaquita is clear: accidental drowning in gillnet fisheries. While conservation plans substituting gillnet fisheries with vaquita-safe gear are underway, time for gradual replacement has been stolen by resurgence of an illegal fishery for the endangered totoaba. Totoaba swim bladders are sold in Asia, involving the United States as part of the distribution chain. In addition, seafood from legal Gulf gillnet fisheries, including shrimp, are sold in the United States.