The Vaquita is an endemic cetacean of the Upper Gulf of California. In 1997 there were an estimated five hundred Vaquita; today only 60 survive. For the Mexican government it is urgent to prevent the population decline of this marine mammal, as well as for the fishing and social sectors, and non-profit organizations in Mexico and the United States.
The survival of the Vaquita depends in large part on avoiding their accidental capture during fishing activities in the region, which requires the ban on the use of gillnets and performing efficient surveillance to guarantee compliance with the federal environmental regulations that are in effect.
With the support of NOAA and Fundación Slim (The Slim Foundation), since 2013, Pronatura Noroeste has experimented with fishing traps for finfish species that prevent the capture of the cetacean. The organization has also encouraged the design and management of the Vaquita Friendly (VF) certification, a strategy that, in addition to protecting this marine mammal, gives added value – and a better price – to products fished under one simple rule: Use gear that does not kill Vaquita, which is an effective way to guarantee that the species is not captured captured and to benefit the fishermen who participate in responsible fishing activities that favor conservation.
Another action was the creation of the San Felipe Fish and Seafood collective brand to promote the marketing of Vaquita Friendly products in the green, gourmet, or premium markets as a benefit to the fishermen from the San Felipe community who participate in this project.
Fotografía: cortesía de WWF (2015).