vaquita reserve Google Earth image shows fishing activity inside the reserve, whose boundaries are marked in white.cetacean specialist group

Compensation plan to protect vaquita

Program worth $37 million would protect world's most endangered mammal species

The federal government has proposed a US $37 million compensation plan that would ban gillnet fishing in waters inhabited by the world’s most endangered mammal species.

Conservation groups have been urging action to preserve the vaquita marina, a small porpoise found only in the upper Sea of Cortéz, which is being picked up as bycatch by fishermen going after the totoaba, for which there is a strong market in China.

The Cetacean Specialist Group (CSG), a sub-group of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, estimated in August that only 97 vaquitas remain in existence, and their survival is threatened by some 600 small gillnet fishboats.

The government’s new initiative would compensate fishermen who stop using nets, according to a report by the Associated Press, and could take effect in a couple of months.

The CSG says aerial photographs taken December 5 over the vaquita refuge in the Sea of Cortéz show 90 small gillnet boats inside its boundaries; three are deploying nets and 10 are recovering them. Another four nets are unattached to a boat.

Mexico News Daily

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