07:00 AM

For Immediate Release

NGOs Reveal Government Negligence is Extinguishing the Vaquita

Media contacts:

Comarino | comarino@yahoo.com

Greenpeace | Edith Martínez | Tel. 5687-9595 | Email: emartine@greenpeace.org

Center for Biological Diversity | Tel. 6121040604 | aolivera@biologicaldiversity.org

Defenders of Wildlife | Juan Carlos Cantu | Email: jccantu@defenders.org 


MEXICO CITY (August 28, 2017) -- Civil organizations presented a report that reveals the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (Conapesca) and the National Institute of Fisheries’ (Inapesca) negligence, omissions and non-compliance with laws and regulations for the protection of the vaquita, resulting in an accelerated decline in the population of this species over last five years and pushing the porpoise to the brink of extinction.

At a press conference, the Center for Biological Diversity, Comarino, Defenders of Wildlife, Greenpeace and Teyeliz reported that the management of Mario Aguilar, director of Conapesca, has deliberately hindered efforts to save the vaquita by ignoring the recommendations of international experts and its obligations under the law, contributing to the accelerated decline that has left a population of less than 30 vaquitas, a 72 percent decline from 2014.

Among the irregularities documented in the report is Conapesca's failure to inspect and surveil areas under its responsibility. Per the 2015 Superior Audit of the Federation, the commission did not monitor the ban of eight protected species, including the curvina golfina in Sonora. Since it is a species that shares habitat with the vaquita in the Upper Gulf of California and is like the totoaba, it serves as a decoy for the prohibited fishing of this species.

Another management failure has been to increase fishing quotas for curvina golfina up to 86 percent from 2012 to 2017 and to give more permits for vessels in the Upper Gulf when programs and regulations call for a reduction in fishing effort in the zone as stated in the 2012 National Fisheries Charter. The charter has not been updated even though it should be renewed every year.

Conapesca’s negligence has had a negative impact on the survival of the vaquita and on the fishing communities of the Alto Golfo. Instead of promoting the alternative fishing gear that does not damage the vaquita, the agency delays permits for fishermen using more sustainable gear but authorizes the use of shrimp nets, which are harmful to the porpoise.

In April 2015, President Peña Nieto issued a two-year ban prohibiting the use of gill nets, during which Inapesca and Conapesca should have developed fishing gear that does not affect the vaquita, allowing fishermen to return to their livelihood. Once the two-year deadline passed this year, there were two extensions of the ban, each for 30 days. But to date, the fishing authorities have still not implemented alternative, sustainable fishing gear for communities.

The Superior Audit of the Federation has made a series of recommendations to Conapesca to fulfill its obligation to promote a sustainable fishing model, but the agency has yet to adopt these recommendations. Even the International Recovery Committee for the Vaquita (CIRVA) has pointed out that the fishing sector is a key element for the protection of this species.

That is why these organizations demand from president Enrique Peña Nieto the following:

  • Immediate dismissal of Mario Aguilar as director of Conapesca
  • Replace the president of the Inapesca
  • Immediate updating of the National Fisheries Charter
  • Immediate return of the fishing sector (Inapesca and Conapesca) to the environmental sector, within the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat)
  • Develop sustainable public fisheries policy that includes communities and ensures the protection of our oceans and their resources to prevent other marine life from facing the dire threat the vaquita is now

Citizens can also join this call for justice for the vaquita and the communities of the Upper Gulf, by signing the petition here.

Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With over 1.8 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit Newsroom.Defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.