Saving Mexico’s vaquita porpoises

This video is called About the Vaquita.

From Wildlife Extra:

New rules may help world’s rarest porpoise, Vaquita, avoid extinction

Mexican government approves selective fishing gear to reduce Vaquita bycatch

July 2013. On the 6th June 2013 the Government of Mexico took an important step towards saving the vaquita, the world’s smallest and rarest cetacean.

The Mexican Government has adopted important modifications to their fishing rules which will require the progressive substitution of shrimp drift gillnets, one of the main fishing gears in which vaquitas die incidentally, with more selective gear that does not kill porpoises. The Mexican government ordered a three-year, gradual substitution of drift gillnets for the new selective net (30% the first year, 30% the second and 40% the third).

Turtle excluder

The new net, known as the RS.INP.MX (acronym for “Selective Net of the National Fisheries Institute-Mexico”) is a small driftnet adapted for use with small vessels (6 metre fibre glass “pangas” with four-stroke gasoline outboard engines) that has a number of features that make it more selective than the gillnets, including a turtle excluder device, a “Fisheye” type fish excluder to exclude smaller-sized species and a double headline or lower line with rollers to reduce damage to the seabed. It is composed of lighter materials to reduce fuel consumption and minimize seabed damage. Mesh size decreases progressively along the net to avoid capturing non-target species. The net has hydrodynamic trawl doors to reduce resistance and increase efficiency, and its smaller dimensions mean it can be deployed from artisanal fishing vessels (“pangas”).

The rules can only be applied effectively if there is participation and commitment from local fishermen. Also, optimal use of the new light trawls requires particular skills; therefore, the support of the government and other organizations through training and temporary compensation programs will be essential.

The new selective net was developed and tested by the National Fisheries Institute (INAPESCA) of the Secretariat of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA), in collaboration with the National Commission for Protected Areas (CONANP) of the Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) and civil society organizations including WWF.

If gillnets were banned in the upper Gulf of California, the population of the vaquita porpoise would almost certainly recover, say scientists: here.

8 thoughts on “Saving Mexico’s vaquita porpoises

  1. EU: The European Commission has proposed to ban the use of driftnets in EU waters and anywhere on its vessels by year’s end to enforce the protection of dolphins and other sea mammals, sea turtles and bluefin tuna.

    Driftnets stretching for miles close to the surface are often responsible for the incidental killing of marine life with little commercial value.

    Such nets have also been used in the hunt for endangered bluefin tuna.

    The proposal now goes to the 28 member states for approval.


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  6. Dear Avaazers,

    Vaquitas are cute, timid aquatic mammals that look like mini-dolphins — and there’s only 30 of them left! But if we act fast, we can still stop this beautiful species from vanishing forever.

    They’re dying because they get trapped in “gillnets” and drown. But Mexico is considering banning these nets right now, and a key government official has agreed to deliver our call right into the highest government offices.

    Together, we can tip the decision in favour of the vaquitas. Let’s show the Ministers if they propose a permanent ban, they’ll have a million of us right behind them. Sign the urgent petition below with one click and share it with everyone:

    Click to save the vaquitas

    To President of Mexico Peña Nieto, Environment Minister Rafael Pacchiano, and Fisheries Minister José Calzada:

    As citizens from around the world horrified that vaquitas could vanish from the face of the earth, we urge you to establish and enforce an immediate, permanent ban on deadly gillnet fishing in Mexico. As there are only 30 vaquitas left, we call on you to do all you can to save this beautiful species from extinction before it’s too late.

    Click to save the vaquitas

    The vaquita, which means “little cow” in Spanish, is the world’s rarest marine mammal and the smallest cetacean in the world. It’s a wondrous and unique animal — but it could be gone within months.

    Fishermen could use other types of nets for fishing species like shrimp and corvina, but gillnets are the easiest option so many are fighting hard against a ban. Plus most fisherman who use deadly gillnets are fishing for totoaba — an endangered species which is then illegally sold to China for huge profits.

    If we act together now, we can save this beautiful species. Tell the Mexican government to pass a permanent ban and protect the vaquitas. Sign now and share with everyone. There is no time left:

    Click to save the vaquitas

    From the African savannas to the dense forests of Borneo, our community has funded undercover agents in poaching networks and bought land to save orangutans. We have worked for years to protect whales and pushed to secure the largest marine reserve in history, and now we have a unique opportunity to ensure that marine vaquitas survive.

    With hope,

    Caroline, Rewan, Diego, Ana Sofia, Allison, Bert, Emma and the whole Avaaz team

    More information:

    Before Vaquitas Vanish, a Desperate Bid to Save Them (New York Times)

    The vulnerable vaquita: Immediate action needed to save critically endangered porpoise (National Geographic)

    Fish bladders, dolphin trackers, and human greed: The vaquita’s wild path to extinction (Fusion)


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