Monthly Archives: May 2016

Vaquita Marina could be extinct within 5 years

Vaquita Marina could be extinct within 5 years

This image was given to me from a PROFEPA official around 10 years ago.

 

CBS news 60 minutes just came out with a special on Vaquita Marina. I was interviewed by Joyce Gesundheit one of the producers of the show. 60 minutes actually did use one of the below images that we provided them. These images of dead totoaba were shot by Johnny Friday  on a beach in Santa Clara well after the gill net ban took place in may of 2015. I will be posting a more detailed critique of the 60 minutes report soon.

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Dr Tom Jefferson from Vivavaquita.org has stated in one of their most recent posts that.

 

If rampant illegal gillnetting is not completely stopped very soon, it is likely that the species will reach a point of no return in the next 12 months or so.  So, let’s all make 2016 the Year of the Vaquita, and turn the species’ fortunes around.  ¡VIVA Vaquita!

I would suggest he is right on the money. I interviewed Tom when I was in San Felipe a few years ago working on a short crowd sourced video on the Vaquita Marina. Tom stated something that I will never really forget on the area were Vaquita can be found. Within the area were Vaquita swim and quite visible

Shrimp trawler with roca Consag in background
Shrimp trawler with roca Consag in background

from San Felipe on a clear day there is a small jagged island called Roca Consaq. As Tom stated in our skype video,

If you were to stand on top of Roca Consaq and spin yourself in a 360 degree circle you would be able to see the entire habitat of La Vaquita Marina.

Basically it is not that big an area in which these small harbor porpoises dwell yet it is still too big an area for the Mexican Navy along with the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society to patrol effectively. Now that I am taking a closer look at the posts by Sea Shepherd I think it is safe to say that if you read between the lines you should come to the conclusion that the federal government of Mexico is not doing all that it can to save La Vaquita Marina. Now I am sure that no one who is working for Sea Shepherd would be allowed to say anything like that but the devil would seem to be in the details and the details are not sounding to good. Clearly Sea Shepherd is playing nice with the Mexican government and when you read their posts they speak highly of the Mexican Navy. I wonder though, knowing what I know of Mexico if the Navy is doing all it can do. Is the Mexican Navy doing as much or more than what Sea Shepherd is doing to save Vaquita Marina’s? Is the commitment to Vaquita Marina from the federal government as strong as the commitment from Sea Shepherd? If the answer to that question is no then there is something seriously wrong here.

I did not make it to San Felipe this year for the illegal totoaba fishing season. I did not reach my funding goal for Vaquita and thus have stayed in San Carlos to work on our proposal for a Marine Protected Area here within Bahia San Francisco. But I have worked many times over the last 25 years with Mexican officials from PROFEPA, CONAMP, and CONAPESCA. I found that most of the time the inspectors on the ground were good people who seriously wanted to do their jobs effectively. In the end the boots on the ground, the ones that did the dirty work in the fight to combat illegal fishing activities were pretty much always screwed over by their bosses in one way or another who are often political appointees who have no experience what so ever in their posts and are either improperly or completely untrained to work in their field. No where was this more the case then the reign of Ramon Corral who was the head of CONAPESCA, for almost a decade. The man who has been called by many the assassin of the Sea of Cortes was a civil engineer who became the head of Mexican Fisheries when he lost his bid to be governor of Sonora. He was completely unqualified to head Mexican Fisheries and the Sea of Cortes suffered greatly under his rule. His successor Mario Sanchez has been no better and the Sea of Cortes is now suffering from a lack of pelagic sardines that is taking it’s toll on marine mammals and bird life. CONAPESCA’S response to all this is usually to simply issue more fishing permits.

 

In the end I feel that the president of Mexcio, Enrique Peña Nieto and his PRI government does not give a rats ass about saving Vaquita Marina’s from extinction. Let’s face it, the government has refused to solve the case of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa so it is not difficult to conclude that if they don’t care about the rights of humans they certainly are not going to care much more about the rights of some 60 porpoise that live in the northern Sea of Cortes where the mighty Colorado river once flowed into one of the greatest deltas the world had ever known. The Colorado river is now just a ghost of what it once was as I fear Vaquita Marinas will be as well. The 5th great extinction is well on it’s way in the northern Sea of Cortes and Vaquita Marinas will most likely be the next mammal on the Homo Sapien hit list.

If you want to see what is really going on in the fight to save Vaquita then simply go to the following links from the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Even though I have to admit that I loath those in the head office at Sea Shepherd, reason being we reached out to them over a year ago and they completely blew us off couldn’t even return an email, I still have to admit that they are currently the only NGO that is doing anything concrete to save Vaquita Marina. Direct action such as this is the only way to save this small porpoise and I fear it is already to late.

Browse the following links from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

 

  1. News and Commentary documenting the Sea Shepherds campaign from the start in April 2015 to the end just a few weeks ago.
  2. Here is a summary video at the end of this blog post on Vaquita by Sea Shepherd. here is a quote from Oona, who I interviewed last year “The partnership with the Mexican Government was productive and certainly made an impact in saving the lives of so many marine animals.  We look forward to working more with the Mexican Government in the Gulf of California and other parts of Mexico,” continued Captain Layolle. Read between the lines on that quote and to me it says that the Mexican government did not do nearly as much as it could.
  3. Here is drone video of illegal fisherman at night being run off by Sea Shepherd.
  4. Here are all the video blogs from the campaign.

 

Below is my interview with Oona from last year while Sea Shepherd passed through San Carlos.