Trader Joe’s Stops Buying Mexican Shrimp in an Effort to Save the Vaquita

Conservationists are applauding Trader Joe’s for announcing it will no longer be buying shrimp from Mexico in an effort to save the world’s smallest and rarest porpoise from extinction.

The vaquita only exists in a small area off the coast of Mexico, and even though they were only discovered in the late 1950s, they’re already on the verge of disappearing forever. Today, there are believed to be 30 or fewer individuals left in existence, who are quickly approaching the brink of extinction.

One of their main threats is being killed as bycatch after getting entangled in gillnets used to catch shrimp and other fish. They’re also suffering as a result of illegal fishing for totoaba, which is used in Chinese medicine and is also considered a delicacy.

In 2015, a two-year ban on gillnet fishing in the vaquita’s range was implemented, and the Mexican government announced this summer that the ban had been made permanent in the Upper Gulf of California. Unfortunately, two fisheries were excluded from the ban, and efforts undertaken so far haven’t been enough to stop heartbreaking losses.

Mexico is about to embark on a controversial plan to capture vaquitas to keep them safe, but their advocates continue to argue that the solution is clear: Gillnets have got to go.

Earlier this year a coalition of more than 45 conservation organizations launched a campaign calling on consumers and companies to boycott of shrimp from Mexico in an effort to pressure leaders to permanently ban all gillnets, remove existing nets from the water, and drastically improve enforcement.

Now, they’re celebrating news that Trader Joe’s has stepped up to help by pledging not to purchase or sell any more shrimp from Mexico.

“We are grateful that Trader Joe’s has listened to the tens of thousands of people who spoke out in support of our campaign’s efforts to save the vaquita,” said Kate O’Connell, marine animal consultant at the Animal Welfare Institute. “We hope that the Mexican government will take note of this decision, and realize that U.S. consumers want nothing less than a total ban on all vaquita-deadly fishing gear.”

According to a joint statement, the move will now put more pressure on other companies, including Amazon, that are still selling shrimp from Mexico.

“For far too long, Mexico has neglected the one necessary change for the vaquita’s survival: a 100 percent gillnet-free habitat,” said Zak Smith, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project. “With fewer than 30 vaquita left in the world, the time for half-hearted measures is over. Everything that can be done to save the vaquita should be done. But let’s be clear: unless the Mexican government can finally ensure a gillnet-free Upper Gulf of Mexico, the extinction of vaquita is guaranteed.” For more on how to help, check out Boycott Mexican Shrimp.

Photo credit: Thomas A. Jefferson/Marine Mammal Commission

60 comments

Carole R
Carole R18 hours ago

Good for you, Trader Joe's.

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Anna R
Anna Ryesterday

thanks for the update

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H2 days ago

Took you long enough Trader Joes. Just a pledge? No action yet?

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Mark H
Mark H3 days ago

TY Trader Joe's! Live Vaquita!

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H M
H M3 days ago

Hooray for the vaquita!

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Adele E Zimmermann
Adele E Z3 days ago

Thank you, Trader Joe's!

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D4 days ago

Thank you Trader Joe's!!! :) Now we need ALL gillnets to be banned - NO exceptions.

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Winn A
Winn A4 days ago

Petition Signed

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Marija M
Marija M4 days ago

tks for sharing

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Paulo R
Paulo R4 days ago

good news, ty

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