STATES CHRONICLE – Specialists stated that vaquita porpoise is the most endangered marine mammal on our planet. Even if there were developed many international programs bound to help these animals, their number was reduced to 30 individuals. The population of vaquita porpoise lives in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California. The International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) has developed this statistics in their effort to prevent this animal extinction.
CIRVA unveiled that approximately 50% of the population of vaquitas got extinct between 2015 and 2016. The vaquita porpoise population has decreased by 90% during the last five years. Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho, the chairman of CIRVA, stated that this situation got out of control. Based on the data shared by CIRVA, the number one threat to these animals is represented by the gill nets.
These nets are usually utilized to capture fish and shrimp. Among the caught fish, there is totoaba which is also known to be an endangered species. In some locations in Asia, the swim bladder of totoaba represents a delicacy. This “aquatic cocaine” can be sold for $10,000. The nets installed pose a threat for vaquitas which can easily get entangled there and drown.
CIRVA published a report regarding this problem in November 2016. The authors argued that this terrible situation is only getting worse, despite all conservation efforts which were initiated. If authorities do not prohibit the illegal use of gill nets stopping the mortality of vaquitas, then they will be extinct in just a few years.
As the number of vaquitas diminished, the Mexican government received support from the United States, together struggling to repress the totoaba fishing while also adopting new conservation methods. Back in 2015, Mexico used an emergency ban prohibiting gillnets to be used across the range of vaquitas. This regulation will expire in April this year. Nevertheless, conservationists have asked authorities to transform this ban into a permanent one.
Back in December 2016, Mexican authorities have announced that they have developed a new plan to save vaquita porpoise. This spring, researchers are bound to try and catch some of the vaquitas which remained in the area and then transport them to a safe zone where they are expected to breed. The plan supported by CIRVA will use the help of some of the top specialists in the world, meant to be able to monitor their acoustic signs and capture them.
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