The vaquita porpoise becomes extinct. It has not yet done so, but its copies are so few that it can only be said that it is on the verge of extinction. If just a few months ago we talked about around 60 specimens in the wild, now we know that the latest study that gives an approximate number of the specimens that remain considers that there are barely 30.
The latest study by the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita Marina (CIRVA) cut the estimate in half. A count that the official authorities doubt for using a method other than theirs, although there is no doubt that it is three dozen or twice, we are facing a situation of maximum urgency.
According to the CIRVA report, the population of this cetacean, the smallest and most threatened in the world, has decreased by 90 percent in the last 5 years and, according to its latest study, since 2015 its population has dropped by half. , going from 60 to the current 30.
- The threats: fishing and pollution
- Measures to save it
- The vaquita marina
- There’s still hope
The threats: fishing and pollution
But how to help her, is it possible to save her? As long as their habitat , the waters of the Gulf of California, remains a hostile place for them, it is difficult to stop their rapid advance towards extinction.
In particular, it is affected by fishing with a type of nets that is used to fish totoaba illegally, affecting them, since it also captures them. Therefore, it is an illegal activity, although it is carried out clandestinely, and the vaquita continues to lose population as a result.
Also, the totoaba fish is in them, since it is another animal in danger of extinction . To this, on the other hand, we must add the poor quality of the waters, polluted with fertilizers and pesticides used in agriculture.
Measures to save it
So far, some measures have been taken to try to stop the population loss . Among others, the use of drones by the Mexican armed forces to control illegal fishing, the prohibition of gillnets and the signing by 182 countries of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITIES) to save it.
But it’s not enough. Saving this endemic species in Mexico requires more drastic measures that should be taken urgently and also be effective. Among others, conservation associations and experts in general affirm that it is necessary to permanently ban gillnet fishing, as well as to increase vigilance.
The vaquita marina
If you really want to save it, you have to increase efforts and implement joint measures, otherwise extinction will be imminent. CIRVA specialists consider that the most effective measure would be the prohibition of such networks.
Only in this way, with a permanent ban that should be made effective on the other hand, would an improvement be possible. So far, it has only been banned for two years, and the compensation paid to fishermen for it is not as equitable as it should be, the Center for Biological Diversity discovered when it consulted the information of the beneficiaries.
The ban on totoaba fishing is key to saving it, and nothing is done effective, reminds Miguel Rivas, coordinator of the Greenpeace Oceans campaign:
For 20 years we have known that the vaquita is in danger of extinction and that if nothing was done about it it would end up becoming extinct. In reality, no one has ever stopped fishing for totoaba in the area, not even the decree of the current Government almost two years ago.
Another proposal to save the vaquita consists of confining them in a sanctuary for their protection, thus avoiding many deaths while encouraging new births. In the opinion of the experts, it would be an interesting solution if it were applied together with the ban on totoaba fishing.
Otherwise it would be a half solution. Only by ending the main cause of its decline is it possible to have long-term success. In addition, their captivity could be detrimental to the few remaining specimens, according to Greenpeace.
Therefore, their captivity is only valued as a specific measure, aimed at preventing the disappearance of the species, which would be something temporary. Not surprisingly, the capture of animals to keep them captive would be a bad solution in itself, but perhaps it could fit into a strategic plan aimed at making their reintroduction into a natural habitat feasible.
Be that as it may, while the experts debate these and other possible solutions, they agree to ask the Mexican authorities to move, otherwise failure is slated.
There’s still hope
Finally, they consider that it is still possible to do it, but at the same time they warn that it is “the last chance”. In this regard, they warn that the countdown runs faster than we imagine, which should not make us give up.
On the contrary, that it is a very “sad and unfortunate” situation should serve to continue trusting that it can be saved and use that conviction as a motor for the implementation of measures that really work.
“There is still hope for the vaquita,” says Kate O’Connell, a marine mammal consultant for the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). In that we trust, but as they say, faith is very good when it is accompanied by actions, as the famous phrase “praying to God, and giving the mallet” summarizes. Because, as is also often said, if you don’t want to work, there’s no point in praying.
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