Rare Vaquita Porpoise Faces ‘Imminent Extinction’
An immediate extension of a fishing ban is desperately needed to save the world’s most endangered marine species.
Campaigners say there are only 30 vaquita porpoises left, with their population having plummeted by 90% since 2011.
These dark-eyed cetaceans are often accidentally killed in gillnets which were banned for two years in 2015.
Researchers hope the Mexican government will now extend the ban due to expire at the end of May.
The vaquita marina species are found only in the Gulf of California, a world heritage site that sits between the Mexican mainland and the Baja peninsula.
The waters are home to a wide array of species, but they also support half of Mexico’s total fisheries production.
Gillnets, which are hung vertically to catch fish by their gills, have been widely used in the Gulf but were banned in 2015 in an effort to help the vaquitas.
However this attempt has failed as fishers continue to work the waters, many looking to catch the Totoaba, a large species which is prized for its swim bladder.
The bladders can fetch up to $8,500 a kilogram on the black market, such is the level of demand in traditional Chinese medicine. The vaquitas are often the unintended victims of these illegal hunts.
Numbers of vaquitas have plunged by 90% since 2011. In March and April of this year five dead porpoises were recovered, three of them killed in gillnets.
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SOURCE: BBC News, Matt McGrath