A group of scientists made an expedition to Mexico to study the situation of one of the most threatened animals in the world, the vaquita marina. The last survey carried out in 2019 estimated that there were only ten specimens of these cetaceans left. At the same time that experts were trying to clarify the causes that this animal is in danger of extinction, many fishermen were preparing to go out to sea with illegal nets and fishing methods.
In a global biodiversity crisis scenario, ending illegal fishing requires a great political will and a deep commitment to local communities. Experts in marine mammals say that the recovery of this species is possible, but only if the problem of illegal fishing is tackled, which is widespread in the San Felipe area (Mexico).
The Mexican government issued an order that prohibits enamlle nets in much of the upper Gulf of California, the only place where vaquitas live, but for practical purposes it is as if the rules don’t exist.
“The government has not yet given us a solution or effective way to support our families without going out to fish illegally,” Ramón Franco Díaz, president of a federation of fishing cooperatives in San Felipe, told The New York Times.
The vaquita population has plummeted since the 600 copies in 1997 to around 10 in 2019. “They are becoming extinct due to human activities, although it could be avoided,” said Jorge Urbán Ramírez, a biologist at the Autonomous University of Baja California Sur.