drone Watching out for the vaquita.

Drones new strategy in vaquita protection

Profepa wants to keep an eye on the endangered porpoise

The good guys use them to monitor the Mexico-United States border, and the bad guys use them to get drugs across that same border. Now the environmental protection agency is going to use them to keep an eye on an endangered porpoise.

Profepa says it hopes to have three unmanned drones patrolling the upper part of the Sea of Cortés in the next few months to protect the vaquita marina from gillnet fishing.

Fewer than 100 of the vaquita remain, and the Sea of Cortés is the only place in the world where they’re found.

“We are considering the use of advanced technology, because drones would allow us to have permanent aerial patrols in the area and be able to react much more efficiently and quickly,” said Alejandro del Mazo of Profepa.

Area fishermen going after totoaba are picking up the vaquita as bycatch, despite attempts to preserve the porpoise by creating a zone in which gillnet fishing is prohibited. Last month federal authorities proposed a US $37 million plan that would ban gillnet fishing in waters inhabited by the vaquita for two years, and pay compensation to the fishermen.

But the head of Conanp, the National Protected Areas Commission, said two years isn’t enough. Luis Fueyo MacDonald said the vaquita cannot recover in that period of time because they only reproduce every two years and only 25 of those remaining are of reproducing age.

He said the plan needs to look ahead 20 to 30 years in order to create a population of 5,000 vaquita.

Source: AP (en)

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