US may extend fishing embargo to Mexico for protection to Vaquita Marina Porpoise
By: Ernesto Mendez
“We have tried support, we have tried diplomacy, but we are near the end of the Vaquita. Economic pressure is necessary to compel the Mexican government to finally react and thus stop the vaquita’s extinction, “he said.
Due to the Covid-19 health emergency , the Sea Shepherd organization had to suspend its operations in the Upper Gulf of California, where it has been patrolling the vaquita’s habitat since 2015, in an operation dubbed “Miracle”, and which has cost him over time attacks with anchors, molotov bombs and firearms.
In mid-March, the crew first decided not to accept observers or guests on board in order to avoid contagions, and then, in early April, to dock their two ships in Mazatlán, Sinaloa and leave for home in order to pass the quarantine in a safe place.
The latest estimate of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), is that there are only six to 19 specimens of this species in critical danger of extinction.
Last March, a video circulated on social networks where illegal fishermen are observed trying to remove a net from a dead vaquita specimen on top of a smaller boat (panga).
The temporary withdrawal of the conservation organization from the area coincides with the increase in the illegal capture of Totoaba fish, which according to testimonies recorded on video and released by Excelsior, nothing stops it, regardless of the pandemic or the recent expansion of the embargo. fishing against Mexico by the United States, in response to the null results in the protection of the world’s most endangered marine mammal.
The Totoaba is taken only for its valuable swim bladder, which is sold on the black market by Mexican DTOs / Cartels for exhorbitant prices, hence its nickname “Cocaine of the Sea”; mostly to China for all the usual “aphrodisiac qualities”. Since the Totoaba fish has been off limits for years fishermen poach the fish with nets , mostly at night, harvest the bladders, and throw the flesh of the fish back to the Sea along with any other by catch.
Conservation Organizations , including the Center for Biological Diversity have filed a lawsuit seeking trade sanctions as well. For the complete Press Release re: the lawsuit use the link above.
The lawsuit, filed by the Center for Biological Diversity and the Animal Welfare Institute against the U.S. Department of the Interior, explains that vaquita become entangled and drown in Mexican fishing gear set to catch Totoaba, an endangered fish. As few as 10 vaquita remain, and if Mexico continues to allow illegal fishing and trade, international scientific experts predict, the tiny porpoise is doomed to extinction.
“Mexico is still sitting on its hands while vaquita after vaquita dies in fishing nets,” said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “We’ve tried advocacy, we’ve tried diplomacy, but we’re near the vaquita’s end. Economic pressure is necessary to force Mexico to finally wake up and stop the vaquita’s extinction.”
Mexican law prohibits totoaba fishing, and trading in totoaba is banned under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) because the totoaba is endangered. Yet Mexico has repeatedly failed to enforce these bans.
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PS: Check out this cool link about the Vaquita Marina Porpoise and Film makers: VaquitaFilms.com