Following nearly nine months of inactivity, the international environmental group Sea Shepherd has announced the Mexican government will allow them to return to the Upper Gulf of California to assist with the task of saving the critically endangered vaquita marina.
Sea Shepherd detailed to have signed a new agreement with various agencies including the Ministries of the Environment and Natural Resources, the Navy, as well as that of Agriculture and Rural Development, along with Federal Environmental Protection, National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission, and the National Commission on Natural Protected Areas.
The agreement, signed by Sea Shepherd Conservation Society President Pritam Singh on August 6th, details the organization will inform Profepa and the Mexican Navy as to abandoned nets located within the Zero Tolerance Area of the Vaquita Refuge in the Upper Gulf.
The nets are to be recovered by the National Aquaculture and Fishing Commission as a means to continue to protect the endangered vaquita.
The vaquita marina (phocoena sinus), endemic to a small region in the Upper Gulf of California, is the world’s most threatened marine mammal. Recent estimates point to a population of only approximately 10 vaquita at the moment.
Sea Shepherd has been working along with Mexican authorities since 2015 to eliminate illegal gillnets from the area, which threaten the species’ survival.
Sea Shepherd will return to the Upper Gulf this Fall, having ceased operations in January 2021 following a tragic New Year’s encounter with a small fishing boat that had lunged at their vessel.