We have written 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 porpoise. Now that we are a fully fledged 501 C 3 non profit we would like to take action once again on the issue of Vaquita Marina. The Mexican government has spend upwards of 30 million dollars on conservation of the Vaquita porpoise over the last 10 years. The money was poorly spent and the population has completely dwindled. How is that possible? The answer I feel can be boiled down to two man issues quite simply. Number one is the resident fisherman of San Felipe have never been convinced that saving Vaquita would be in their best interests. Many fisherman still to this day will tell you that Vaquita Marinas don’t even exist. Number two, the agency in charge of protecting Vaquita, PROFEPA, has purposely botched the job of patrolling the Vaquita Refuge and from what some sources have explained to me, actually regulated the price of totoaba swim bladders on the black market. Fisherman go out under the cover of darkness and set gill nets that will be left in the water for up to 48 hours. Just one or two totoaba air bladders from sold on the black market can make a fisherman thousands of dollars. These gill nets have brought Vaquita to the brink. All of this has to end and end now.
The federal government of Mexico has recently taken the right steps to save Vaquita. There is a two year moratorium on the use of gill nets in the northern gulf. Fisherman who fish for shrimp and other species have been paid 64 million dollars to leave their boats on their trailers. While PROFEPA is still around the Mexican Navy has been given three new interceptor boats to patrol the area and it is clear that the Navy will bare the brunt of the real work now. What is crucial is that civil society and Non Profits such as ours be present in the area to observe the gill net ban is for real and that the Navy has not been compromised as was PROFEPA.
Worlds Aquarium will not be the only non profit in the area. The Sea Shepherd Society and Green Peace will be there as well. But we will be the only Non Profit based in the Sea of Cortes.
Extinction is forever……….
These never before published images below were provided by a contact of mine who was close to el Gulfo de Santa Clara. These images were taken at the beginning of May, well after the Mexican government closed down all gill net fisheries in the northern gulf. What one official told me off the record in confidentiality when I showed them these images is that they believe local fisherman were told by corrupt CONAPESCA/PROFEPA officials, to go fish as much totoaba as you can and while you are at it kill as many Vaquitas as you can because the federal government is shutting the whole fishery down.