Sea Shepherd Launches New Campaign to Save the Critically Endangered Vaquita

The vaquita is now the world’s rarest porpoise, and while they continue to slide towards extinction, their advocates aren’t giving up hope that they may yet survive.

The vaquita only exist in a small area in the Gulf of California, off the coast of Mexico. 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, and extinction in the very near future is becoming an increasingly likely scenario.

The biggest threat they now face 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.

Now, Sea Shepherd has launched its fifth campaign to help them, Operation Milagro V, and returned to their home early this year to take direct action to help by removing illegal nets and keeping a presence in the area to stop illegal fishing.

“There is work to do to ensure the vaquita survives. Sea Shepherd will start removing inactive totoaba fishing gear, also known as ghost nets and we will come across occasional active nets this early in the season,” said Sea Shepherd Director of Marine Operations and Campaigns Captain Locky Maclean. “We are also ensuring no fishing is taking place inside the protected area and preventing poaching activities by patrolling the area with our partner agencies from the Mexican Government on-board.”

According to Sea Shepherd, it has already removed 808 illegal pieces of fishing gear since starting operations in the Gulf, which has cost the poachers an estimated $857,779, while 3069 animals have been saved in the process.

While Sea Shepherd’s directly in the water helping, other organizations are tackling this issue from other fronts. Last year the Animal Welfare InstituteCenter for Biological Diversity and Natural Resources Defense Council filed an emergency petition seeking a ban on Mexican seafood caught in the vaquita’s range using gillnets, and recently won a subsequent lawsuit seeking that ban.

Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, 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, yet nothing had been done.

Fortunately, the U.S. Court of International Trade agreed with the coalition and recently ordered the Trump administration to ban seafood imports from Mexico that are caught using gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California.

Hopefully ongoing, and combined, efforts to help the vaquita will keep them from vanishing forever.

Photo credit: Thomas A. Jefferson/MMC

84 comments

Angela K
Angela K3 days ago

Petition already signed & shared

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara16 days ago

th

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara16 days ago

work

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Clare O'Beara
Clare O'Beara20 days ago

well done

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Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D22 days ago

Thank you Sea Shepherd!!! You have my utmost appreciation and gratitude. DO NOT BUY any seafood imported from Mexico. Maybe they will listen if we speak in $$$. We already know tRUMP will be no help here.

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Sebastian J
Sebastian J22 days ago

I hope they ask for donations I’d be glad to contribute to this dedicated group of very active advocates.

It’s bitterly sad that so much of our most wonderful and precious wild creatures are being extinguished because of human greed and superstitious ignorance. Swim bladders, shark teeth, tiger teeth, rhino horns, elephant tusks. To name a few of numerous “reasons” for the slaughter of animals.

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Donna T
Donna T23 days ago

thank you

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Pam Bruce
Pam Bruce23 days ago

Good luck and thank you. This is an uphill battle. Everything in this day and age is an uphill battle. People need to be educated to learn the harm they are doing to this world and its wildlife.

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Cathy B
Cathy B23 days ago

Thank you Sea Shepherd!

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Dr. Jan Hill
Dr. Jan H23 days ago

A strong effort.

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