Court Upholds Mexican Seafood Ban to Save Critically Endangered Vaquitas

Conservationists are celebrating a legal victory following a federal court ruling that upholds a ban on seafood from Mexico that’s endangering the vaquita, who is now one of the most endangered marine mammals on the planet.

The vaquita only exist in a small area in the Gulf of California, off the coast of Mexico, and despite past efforts to protect them, their numbers have continued to decline at an alarming rate.

Today, there are believed to be fewer than 30 individuals left in existence, possibly as few as 15, and extinction is becoming an increasingly likely scenario.

One of the main threats to their survival is being killed as bycatch when they get entangled in gillnets that are used to catch shrimp and other fish. They’re also suffering as a result of illegal fishing targeting endangered totoaba for its swim bladder, which is used in Chinese medicine and is also considered a delicacy.

The scientific consensus is that if there’s any hope of saving the vaquita, gillnets have got to go, but Mexico has failed to take meaningful action.

In an effort to help, the Animal Welfare InstituteCenter for Biological Diversity and Natural Resources Defense Council took legal action seeking a ban on Mexican seafood caught in the vaquita’s range using gillnets.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the government is required to ban seafood imports from fisheries that kill or injure marine mammals at a rate above U.S. standards, which Mexico is clearly exceeding.

According to the groups, last year alone it was estimated that more than 1,400 tons of the fish and shrimp that would be included in the ban was imported into the U.S. at a value of roughly $16 million, while gillnets are now killing about 50 percent of the population every year.

Scientists predict they could go extinct, possibly as soon as 2021, if drastic action isn’t taken. Fortunately, the court agreed with the groups and issued a ban over the summer.

While the Trump administration has already tried to undo the ban twice, it just lost again. This week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit ruled to uphold it, marking another legal win for those working to save the vaquita.

“The US government is wasting its time and money trying to reverse the court’s order, which will only accelerate the extinction of the critically endangered vaquita,” said DJ Schubert, a wildlife biologist for the Animal Welfare Institute (AWI). “It’s time for the government to accept the courts’ decisions, ensure full implementation of the ban, and continue to work with the government of Mexico to save the vaquita.”

Now, it’s hoped the ban will force Mexico to act to permanently ban gillnets and to strongly enforce that ban before any more precious individuals are lost.

Photo credit: Chris Johnson/MMC

82 comments

Jack Y
Jack Y4 months ago

thanks

SEND
Jack Y
Jack Y4 months ago

thanks

SEND
John J
John J4 months ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
John J
John J4 months ago

thanks for sharing

SEND
Shae Lee
Shae Lee5 months ago

Thank you.

SEND
Sonia M
Sonia M5 months ago

Petition signed,thanks for sharing

SEND
Angela K
Angela K5 months ago

Petition already signed & shared

SEND
Shae Lee
Shae Lee5 months ago

Thanks for sharing

SEND
Michael F
Michael Friedmann5 months ago

Thank You for Sharing This !!!

SEND
Marija M
Marija M5 months ago

tks for sharing

SEND