- Ambassador Roberta S. JacobsonU.S. Ambassador to Mexico
Save the Vaquita - Ban Gillnets, Increase Enforcement
According to a recent report by the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), only about 60 vaquitas (phocoena sinus) remain in the upper Gulf of California, making this small porpoise the most endangered marine mammal on the planet.
The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and its 233 members identified the vaquita as one of 10 signature species that are part of the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program. That means the AZA community is focusing expertise and resources on identified projects to help save the vaquita from extinction.
We know we can’t do it alone, however. We need the Mexican government to permanently ban the use of gillnets in the Gulf of California, and to increase enforcement against illegal fishing. The Mexican government has taken action to protect the critically endangered vaquita with a temporary, two-year gillnet ban. The local fishermen have been doing their part, too, and we are doing what we can to help them find alternative fishing gear. But we need a permanent ban on gillnets – and greater enforcement against illegal fishing – if we have any hope of saving the “little cow.”
You can help! Sign our letter to U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson to let the Ambassador know we are behind her and support her doing what she can to encourage Mexican government officials to permanently ban the use of gillnets in the Gulf of California and to increase enforcement against illegal fishing.
You can stay up to date on what AZA and its members are doing to help save the vaquita from extinction by regularly visiting our website.
Thank you for your support!
- U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
Ambassador Roberta S. Jacobson
Roberta S. Jacobson
U.S. Ambassador to Mexico
U.S. Embassy Mexico City
Paseo de la Reforma 305
06500 Mexico, D.F.
Dear Ambassador Jacobson:
We are sure you are aware of the latest International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA) report affirming there are fewer than 60 vaquitas in existence. We are writing to you today to request you to do all you can to work with the Mexican government to help save the vaquita porpoise from extinction.
We applaud the Mexican government’s unprecedented actions to protect the critically endangered vaquita to date. These include issuing a two-year temporary gillnet fishing ban in waters surrounding the vaquita’s habitat and increasing law enforcement with those who are illegally catching the critically endangered totoaba. It is gillnetting for totoaba that places the vaquita in danger.
We also applaud local fishermen in San Felipe, Puerto Peñasco, and El Golfo de Santa Clara who have been working with officials to test alternative fishing gear during the ban period. This gear assures adequate shrimp and fin-fish catch rates while eliminating catching the vaquita.
We are writing to request that you encourage the Mexican government to permanently ban gillnets in this region, further increase enforcement against illegal totoaba fishing, and support continued development of alternative fishing gear. Gear that meets the fishermen’s needs and eliminates the possibility of catching the vaquita.
As mentioned, with fewer than 60 vaquitas left in existence, there is no time to delay. This “little cow” is Mexico’s treasure and is only found in the Upper Gulf of California. The 233 members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, along with its 183 million visitors, are committed to doing what we can to help save the vaquita from extinction. The vaquita is one of 10 signature species included in the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program, which has a dedicated vaquita Conservation Action Plan. The AZA SAFE vaquita CAP focuses expertise and resources on identified projects to help save the vaquita from extinction.
We look forward to following your progress and promoting the good work the U.S. and Mexican governments and fishermen are doing to help save the vaquita.
Judith G. Garber, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs
Mari Carmen Aponte, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
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