MEXICO CITY – Mexico will increase its efforts to save the Gulf of California harbor porpoise – an endemic Mexican species in danger of extinction – with a strategy that includes three courses of action, the Environment and Natural Resources Secretariat (Semarnat) announced on Friday.
The plan is divided into actions focused on watchfulness, protection of the porpoise refuge and compensation for fishermen’s cooperation, the institute said in a statement.
Semarnat Secretary Rafael Pacchiano said every effort will be made to save the species, a project to which the Mexican government gave special attention last year.
“The vaquita (as it is known in Mexico) is a symbol of conservation, so we won’t rest until we successfully preserve it. Then our children can get to know this species and take pride in our biodiversity,” he said.
This effort is a continuation of the Conservation, Protection and Recovery (CPR) project begun last October.
In order to win fishermen’s help, for three months the compensation awarded them will be expanded so they develop the art of fishing in a way that doesn’t harm the cetacean.
Semarnat also said it will allow in-season fishing for croakers – in the months of February and May – outside the enlarged protected area.
In order to take sustainable advantage of the totoaba fish – a species closely linked to the vaquita being in danger of extinction – the government plans to invest in three fish farms for this species with 300,000 fingerlings.
This will help keep them from being poached and will promote a parallel economy for the communities of the Upper Gulf of California, where the vaquita lives.
The main enemies of the attractive sea mammal are fishing nets, which are the same as those used to poach the totoaba, a fish whose air bladder is sold on the black market for thousands of dollars per kilo (pound).
Stronger protection for the vaquita will be assured by increasing Navy patrols backed by long-range spy cameras, a mobile system of command, control and communications plus digital communications equipment.