IWC Meeting: US Vaquita Proposal is Passed by Consensus

The vaquita is the smallest and the most endangered cetacean in the world. Image. Wikimedia Commons: Paula Olson, NOAA.
An emergency resolution which outlines the recommended urgent measures needed to prevent the critically endangered vaquita from sliding into extinction has been passed at the 66th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (IWC).
 
Found solely in the Gulf of California, off Mexico, the vaquita is the smallest porpoise in the world and is in danger of imminent extinction. Alarmingly, the vaquita population has decreased by around 80 percent in the last five years as a result of entanglement in fishing gillnets, many of which are set illegally to capture totoaba. The totoaba is a critically endangered species of fish, which is in high demand in Hong Kong and China where it is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine. 
 
This illegal trade is driving both the totoaba and the vaquita to extinction.
 
Given the grave concerns for the survival of the vaquita, the USA put forward this IWC resolution which urges both the Mexican government to uphold and enforce the gillnet ban within vaquita habitat, and IWC member countries to help eliminate the illegal international trade in totoaba swim bladders and support Mexico's efforts to prevent the extinction of the vaquita with financial resources, technical and socio-economic expertise.
 
The resolution was passed by consensus and fully incorporates the recommendations of the IWC’s Scientific Committee - calling for stringent management measures, rather than more research.
 
The threat to the vaquita is well understood, as are the solutions to address this immense problem; we can only hope it isn’t too late to save this imperiled porpoise.
 
--SL
 
Learn more about IFAW efforts to protect whales around the world, visit our campaign page.
 

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Experts

Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation