World Wildlife Fund applauds new agreement to protect vaquita marina

By José Antonio Pérez

June 8, 2017.  The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) reports an agreement signed this past week between the Mexican Government, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, and the Carlos Slim Foundation is a firm step in the fight to save the endangered vaquita marina in the Upper Gulf of California.

This initiative includes a permanent ban on gillnets, locating and removal of abandoned or lost nets (or rather “ghost nets”) within the vaquita habitat, and development of new fishing techniques and gear so that local communities can resume sustainable fishing activities legally.

The WWF underscored their willingness to support implementation and monitoring of efforts with their partners, reiterating its urgent call to develop clear strategies for the recovery of the vaquita population, including:

  • Immediate authorization for use of alternative fishing gear (currently not permitted under present law)
  • Development of new sustainable fishing techniques
  • Ban on the transport and/or possession of gillnets in and around the Upper Gulf of California
  • Coordinated actions between Mexico, the U.S., and China in putting an end to illegal commerce of totoaba gallbladders, which encourages the rampant use of gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California

The WWF also believes any effort to capture and create a sanctuary for remaining vaquitas in order to assist their reproduction in captivity must be explicitly linked with a plan to return the vaquita to its natural environment once its habitat is secure.

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