The vaquita marina is in a delicate balance that can be broken at any time, tipping the balance of the side of extinction. Its countdown does not allow us to speak of years, not even the day after tomorrow, since there are just over fifty copies.
- Problems you face
- Attempts to save her
- Image from section 2
Problems you face
Gillnet fishing and water pollution by pesticides from agriculture are its main threats. In particular, the use of these nets to fish for totoaba illegally is also capturing vaquitas.
The totoaba fish is also in danger of extinction, and its clandestine fishing is due to the demand that the bladder of this fish has in China and Japan for its use in traditional Asian medicine.
By sharing the ecosystem with the vaquita porpoise, the nets also capture the latter, and although both species are on a tightrope, the critical status of the latter is much more worrying.
Attempts to save her
Among other initiatives, drones have captured media attention. Specifically, it seeks to create a surveillance system that really works and drones have not been painted.
It is a recent project, implemented by the Mexican armed forces to prevent illegal fishing and although it represents a great help, it is also true that there are very few specimens left.
Preventing the population from continuing to decline is a priority objective, the only one, today, actually. To this end, the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) attacks the root of the problem. That is to say, it asks that the fishing of the totoaba fish stop. It is, however, a difficult problem to achieve.
The black market that acts as a motor for their fishing in waters of Mexico and the United States is a thorny issue that can hardly be tackled. To achieve this, the WWF calls for the closure of fisheries, seeking a solution that will stop the slaughter and begin to bear fruit in the long term.
Similarly, other conservation organizations, such as Greenpeace or Sea Shepherd, are committed to this fight. They spread the extreme situation that the species is suffering, emphasizing the importance of acting quickly. Otherwise, the numbers will sing, and the melody will be requiem. As it is easy to guess, mathematics in this case seems to only know how to subtract.
For its part, the Mexican government launched a protection plan about a year and a half ago, banning gillnets and offering financial compensation to damaged fisheries. An interesting measure in theory, but in practice the catches continue.
Seeking international support, the National Institute of Ecology of Mexico launched an SOS to different countries, including the United States and China to reduce the illegal traffic of totoaba fish as soon as possible. With the addition that by respecting this endangered species we are helping the vaquita to be saved.
This week Mexico has taken a giant step that could make a big difference. This is the signing of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to save the vaquita porpoise, supported by 182 countries.
This cetacean, the smallest and most threatened in the world, could have its last hope in this initiative so as not to end up being erased from the map. This proposal was adopted at the seventeenth meeting of CITES hosted by Johannesburg.
You don’t have to go very far to find out what is intended. As it could not be otherwise, the aim is to put an end to the totoaba trade, whose vegiga is known as “aquatic cocaine”. Its sale at exorbitant prices and its nickname are a clear example of how difficult it will be to achieve this goal.
In the approved document, the three countries that are directly involved in its illegal trade (Mexico, the United States and China) have promised to do more than their share to “intercept illegal shipments.”
Not used to the maximum term and virtually lead a policy of tolerance zero in pursuing traffickers totoaba, efforts will nothing.
To monitor progress, these countries will report annually to CITES on what has been achieved. The factors to attack are clear, and since there is no plan B, saving the vaquita implies helping the totoaba in turn.
As the WWF organization has pointed out, moving forward is always positive, but as long as the initiatives are not translated into action, the vaquita will continue to be in grave danger. As so often happens, prohibition is the solution, but only if it can be made effective. This is the challenge. It is hard but not impossible.
An extreme situation in which half measures are not worth it. Its defenders, conservation associations and, at the last minute, also governmental institutions, know well that if results are not achieved as soon as possible it will be difficult, if not impossible, to save it .
We could say that the future of this endearing cetacean is written in the stars, but things are more prosaic. And, without a doubt, also much less poetic. Its habitat, the waters of the Gulf of California could become nothing in its own grave.
In fact, it has already been for practically all its copies. The survivors of the species, about 60, are the only hope . Let’s see what is for and against in such a complicated situation. Although, unfortunately, today it is not difficult to imagine which side the currency will end up falling on.
Image from section 2
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