Sanctions against Mexico have been announced by the Committee on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which claims that the nation’s attempts to safeguard the critically endangered vaquita are failing.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are just around 10 vaquitas (Phocoena sinus) left in the world, making them the most endangered marine animal. Only the shallower coastal waters of Mexico’s northern Gulf of California contain them.
Particularly vulnerable to being caught as bycatch are these porpoises. As part of illicit fishing operations in the vaquita’s protected environment, they frequently become caught in nets made for fish, notably the endangered totoaba, and shrimp.
To restrict the illicit fishing of totoaba, CITES established penalties, which prevent the country from exporting wildlife products to the majority of other nations. Exports of items like crocodile leather, pet reptiles, cacti, mahogany, and other products derived from plants and animals worth millions of dollars will be prohibited as a result of the penalties.
To prevent fishermen and unlicensed vessels from entering the vaquita ecosystem, the nation must immediately develop an action plan and a schedule for its implementation. Penalties are anticipated to last until the CITES committee receives and approves Mexico’s amended compliance action plan.
Zak Smith, director of global biodiversity protection at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement that Mexico is rightfully suffering the effects of its inability to curtail illicit fishing, which is to blame for the extinction of the vaquita. The international community has been pleading with Mexico to uphold its legal commitments for many years. Wide sanctions are warranted and should stay in place until Mexico exhibits results.
Regarding illegal fishing, Mexico has endured years of criticism and warnings. To address the problem, Mexico has previously provided protective plans and updated plans. According to The Associated Press, the nation has set traps to catch illegal nets and has pledged to discover other fishing methods. These proposals, however, were deemed inadequate by the CITES committee.
Mexico s government has met fierce pushback from fishermen, who are trying to catch totoaba for their swim bladders, which can sell for hundreds of dollars per pound. Critics have underlined that neither alternative fishing technique instruction nor financial incentives for fishermen to avoid the protected vaquita area have been adopted by the Mexican government.
The nation has made some efforts, such as prohibiting gillnets in protected areas and having the Mexican Navy patrol, but just this month, the Center for Biological Diversity reported that eight illegal fishing vessels were discovered in the protected habitat and 38 vessels were discovered in the Vaquita Refuge.
All prior attempts to persuade Mexico to conserve the vaquita have failed, according to Sarah Uhlemann, international program director of the Center for Biological Diversity, even though no one enjoys the prospect of punishing economic repercussions. The strongest measures possible are needed to wake up the Mexican government and prompt it to finally save this tiny porpoise from extinction.