100 Vaquita Marinas are all that is left; Now its crunch time for Mexico

100 Vaquita Marinas are all that is left; Now its crunch time for Mexico

Vaquita Range
Vaquita Range

It was my last afternoon in San Felipe and I was on the bus to Tijuana. Earlier in the day the head guy at PROFEPA totally blew me off for our scheduled interview. I believe he purposely left town so as not to be interviewed. PROFEPA is Mexico’s version of fish and game and they are responsible for protecting Vaquita. I can now fully understand why he did not wish to speak with me. According to CIRVA, the Committee for the Recuperation of Vaquita, PROFEPA, has completely bungled the job. The 5th CIRVA report can be downloaded here, and if you read it closely you will see that it is actually a fairly scathing indictment on PROFEPAS performance. PROFEPA didn’t even show up at the meeting CIRVA held in Ensenada in early July.

Sign the petition that has been posted via vivavaquita at the change.org, so please click here and go to the Change.org link to sign the petition.

As I sat on that bus to Tijuana I overheard a conversation from the passenger sitting across the isle from me. He was talking to the one of the bus drivers about the price of shrimp. I would have never guessed this kid was a shrimp fisherman. He was in the prime of his life, a good looking kid with chiseled features and a strong chin, he was in his late 20’s or early 30’s. Most of the fisherman I spoke to were much older than he and it was then that I realized I should have spoken to many more younger up and comers. He told me the price of shrimp just recently went up in san felipe from 180 to 200 pesos a kilo.

gill net area
Proposed Gill Net Exclusion Zone

So I asked this young shrimp fisherman if he had ever seena vaquita. I was expecting the same old answer I had got dozens of times before. I was expecting a strong no. To my delight he quickly answered yes. Two seasons ago they pulled a dead one up in their shrimp net. He said they wanted to save it but of course it had already drowned. He said it was bien bonito, a beautiful animal. They threw it back into the ocean asap. He told me if they had been caught with it they would have been put in jail.

I wonder if they were fishing somewhere were they were not supposed to be, like within the vaquita reserve.

I should have thought to ask but this kid had already been straight with me and told me the truth so I didn’t want to press the subject. I had been lied to by so many fisherman over the last 5 days that this kids admission of fact was a wonderful breath of fresh air to me.

So please take a look at the Video above and feel free to leave a comment below.

The future is grim for vaquita and although time is certainly running out at least it is clear what has to happen now if the species is to be saved. There is no confusion over what has to happen, it is really quite simple. No more gill nets allowed and the Mexican Navy is going to have to patrol the waters between San Felipe and Puerto Penasco 24/7 with several boats and some damn powerful radar. It will have to be zero tolerance now for the illegal totoaba fisherman zero tolerance for any type of gill net and trawl nets only for the shrimp fishery. As far as corvina and sierra go it is anyone’s guess how they will fish for them but it is now more clear than ever.

The extinction of the gill net in the upper gulf is now the only thing that will save la vaquita from the same fate.

Most of the older Mexican fisherman I spoke with really do want the vaquita to go extinct. The sooner the better as far as they are concerned. That way they can go back to fishing anywhere they like, like the good old days. It occurred to me then that the government had failed miserably in convincing local fisherman that it was in their benefit to save vaqutias from extinction. I asked the young handsome fisherman why they called la vaquita (little cow in spanish), la vaquita. He told me it was because the meat of a vaquita looked very much like the meat of a real vaca or cow. I heard the same exact thing from Jorge, a sport fishing operator on the malecon just the night before. Jorge finally admitted that not only had he seen a Vaquita but he had actually eaten one and they tasted damn good as well.  The vaquita had washed ashore on the beach and it was quickly put on the grill. I wrote more about that conversation on what a vaquita tasted like at the following link back in October on our other web site Sancarlos TV.

WorldsAquarium will be interviewing scientists and government officials frequently over the next month since the first of September may be a very important date. It will be the date the Federal Government in Mexico City decides the fate of Vaquita by agreeing or not to ban gill nets from the northern gulf.

We would like to thank Lorenzo Rojas Bracho, Armando M. Jaramillo and Tom Jefferson from vivavaquita.org

Sign the petition that has been posted via vivavaquita at the change.org, so please click here and go to the Change.org link to sign the petition.

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9 Responses to 100 Vaquita Marinas are all that is left; Now its crunch time for Mexico

  1. […] extensively over the last several years on the Sea of Cortes harbor porpoise, Vaquita Marina. A few years back we crowd sourced a video on these highly endangered, around 60 left, desert porpo….  Now that we are a fully fledged 501 C 3 non profit we would like to take action once again on […]

  2. Thank you for your great work! I agree that more awareness within the community is needed by integrating the Vaquita in our culture, make people proud of it, make the Vaquita the national symbol to change the tide and make people proud of it. I also believe that education of fishermen of the importance of the balance of the foodchain can change the argument for fishermen to support and save the Vaquita. Isn’t it true that larger animals like the Vaquita, which are higher up in the food chain, will keep the balance of fish in place? Otherwise all the fish will be eaten by larger fish and there won’t be any left for the fishermen… so much awareness to be raised.. get schools and children involved.. if you wish we could run Whale of a Time Workshops – http://www.whaleofatime.org/workshops.php Please view our Whale of a Time Gallery at http://www.whaleofatime.org/gallery.php

    Have a whale of a time! 🙂

    • Thank you for your comment. It is unfortunate that the fisherman do not believe that it is in their best interests to save La Vaquita. As far as La Vaquita keeping the balance of fish in place, the tremendous amount of human fishing activities in the upper gulf are most likely the defining factor as to the balance of life. Your organization looks very interesting and again thanks for the comment.

  3. Great job Vince. I hope that all your hard work will pay off someday.
    Those gill net fishermen need to change their style of fishing in the entire Sea of Cortez…. not just the northernmost section.
    We need more people like you who dedicate their lives to the preservation of the life in the Mar de Cortez.
    It’s shrimp season again.
    Buenos suerte a las Vaquita Marinas.

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