Tag: Gulf of California

Conservation groups eye emergency rescue plan for vaquitas

‘We are watching this precious native species disappear before our eyes’

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Can vaquitas be saved by keeping them in captivity? Photo courtesy NOAA.

Staff Report

For more background, check the Summit Voice vaquita archive.

With perhaps fewer than 100 vaquitas remaining in the Gulf of California, conservation experts say they will start a last-ditch recovery effort by trying to capture several of the marine mammals and keeping them in a temporary sanctuary. The emergency action plan will be led by the Mexican government and supported by a consortium of marine mammal experts from more than a dozen organizations around the world.

Despite substantial efforts by the Mexican government to protect vaquitas, the recovery team recently reviewed the latest results from advanced acoustic monitoring technology that showed the vaquita population continuing to rapidly decline.

“We are watching this precious native species disappear before our eyes,” said Rafael Pacchiano, Mexico’s secretary of the environment and natural resources. “This critical rescue effort is a priority for the Mexican government and we are dedicated to providing the necessary resources in order to give the plan its best chance of success.” The plan will be implemented in tandem with ongoing efforts to remove the threat of gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California and eliminate illegal fishing. Continue reading “Conservation groups eye emergency rescue plan for vaquitas”

Sea Shepherd partners with Mexican government to halt the illegal gill net fishing that threatens the vaquita

Hong Kong prosecution of black market traders could help slow illegal fishing in Gulf of California vaquita preserve

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Vaquita porpoise. Photo courtesy Paula Olson/NOAA.
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Wildlive conservation activists and the Mexican government are partnering to try and save a remnant vaquita population in the upper Gulf of California. Map courtesy Sea Shepherd.

By Bob Berwyn

Conservation groups and the Mexican government are making progress in trying to avert extinction of the vaquita porpoise, a small marine mammal that lives only in a few thousand square miles in the northern Gulf of California.

Late last month, Greenpeace announced that several Hong Kong traders involved in selling illegal marine products from the Gulf of California were convicted and fined for their activities, which could help deter more trade in illegal marine products from the region. It’s that trade that’s pushing the vaquita to the brink of extinction.

And in the Gulf of California, the Mexican government has stepped up enforcement of a gill net ban that’s aimed at protecting the vaquita. At the same time, the Mexican government has partnered with Sea Shepherd, giving the nonprofit direct action group the authority to remove illegal gill nets. Two Sea Shepherd vessels are patrolling the region as part of the group’s Operation Milagro II. Continue reading “Sea Shepherd partners with Mexican government to halt the illegal gill net fishing that threatens the vaquita”

Mexico to step up vaquita conservation efforts

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Mexican agencies say they will try to cut illegal fishing and work more closely with conservation groups to prevent the vaquita from going extinct. Photo courtesy NOAA.

Focusing on illegal trade could help protect world’s most endangered marine mammal

By Bob Berwyn

In a hopeful sign for the critically endangered vaquita, Mexican environmental and law enforcement officials have indicated they’ll work more closely with conservation groups to track illegal fishing in the upper Gulf of California, and try to stop the trade of illegal fish in the region.

The vaquita is the world’s most endangered marine mammal. The small dolphins live only in a few thousand square miles of ocean in the northern Gulf of California. Biologists estimate the total population at fewer than 100 individuals. Continue reading “Mexico to step up vaquita conservation efforts”

Greenpeace activists help stop illegal gillnet fishing in the race to save vaquitas

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Will we let the vaquita vanish? Photo courtesy NOAA.

More enforcement, support for sustainable fishing practices needed to protect world’s most endangered marine mammal

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Marine mammal conservation advocates with Greenpeace last week said that their patrols in the northern Gulf of California found 10 illegal gillnets, which were removed by Mexico’s environmental authorities.

The patrols by the Greenpeace vessel Esperanza are aimed at protecting vaquitas, the world’s smallest and most critically endangered porpoise species. Based on the latest scientific surveys, there are less than 100 vaquitas remaining. Continue reading “Greenpeace activists help stop illegal gillnet fishing in the race to save vaquitas”

Observers say Mexico is not enforcing a gillnet ban meant to save vaquitas from extinction

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Despite a ban that started April 10, some Mexican fishermen are still using gillnets in the northern Gulf of Mexico to the detriment of critically endangered endemic porpoises. Photo via Greenpeace.

Illegal international wildlife trade presents a related threat

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Conservation advocates say some Mexican fishermen are ignoring a ban on gillnets in the northern Gulf of California, driving a porpoise species even closer to extinction.

Biologists say there are less than 100 vaquitas left in the area, and perhaps as few as 50, and despite Mexico’s stated intention to enforce the gillnet ban, Greenpeace observers reported this week that the now-illegal nets are still being widely used. Continue reading “Observers say Mexico is not enforcing a gillnet ban meant to save vaquitas from extinction”

Is global warming driving seabirds from their Gulf of California nesting grounds?

"Elegant Tern Bolsa Chica" by Regular Daddy - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.
“Elegant Tern Bolsa Chica” by Regular Daddy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Study tracks shift in nesting grounds as oceans warm

Staff Report

FRISCO — Scientist think climate change may be a key reason that thousands of seabirds are leaving their nesting grounds on an island in the Gulf of California and moving north.

In a new study, researchers from the University of California at Riverside looked at Isla Rasa, where more than 95 percent of the world’s population of elegant terns and Heerman’s gulls have traditionally nested.

In the past 20 years, the seabirds have abandoned the island and moved to other nesting grounds in Southern California including the San Diego Saltworks, Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, and Los Angeles Harbor. Continue reading “Is global warming driving seabirds from their Gulf of California nesting grounds?”

Vaquita population may be down to 50

Illegal fishing drives species toward extinction

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A vaquita in the Gulf of California. Photo courtesy NOAA/Paula Olsen.
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Vaquitas live only in the northern end of the Gulf of California, where they are threatened by illegal fishing.

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — Illegal gillnet fishing in the northern Gulf of California continued to take a toll on endangered vaquita porpoises the past few years, according to a new report suggesting that as few as of 50 vaquitas remain.

The report, from the Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), is based on acoustic detection surveys, which is the best way to count the small porpoises. Based on the most recent survey, the scientists concluded an apparent 42 percent drop in the vaquita population from 2013 to 2014, when scientists estimated the population at less than 100. Continue reading “Vaquita population may be down to 50”