Mexico Aims to Protect the Vaquita Porpoise Endangered SpeciesBy María Fernanda Barría | Tue, 08/03/2021 - 09:36
The Mexican government and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (SADER) have reinforced the protection granted to the Vaquita Porpoise by establishing schemes to restrict the total or partial illegal fishing activities. This action came after US Government agencies warned that the new rules for fishing in the northern Gulf of California (Sea of Cortés) would lead to the extinction of the Vaquita Porpoise.
As previously reported by MBN, the USMCA includes a series of measures regarding oceans and fishing that give Mexico a series of obligations, including the development of standards to encourage sustainability and reduce illegal fishing and the overexploitation of fisheries. The treaty also urges Mexico to protected endangered species, including the vaquita porpoise and marine turtles. Nevertheless, a report from NGO Oceana reports that Mexico has failed to comply with these obligations.
SADER published in the Official Gazette of the Federation the National Agreement that addresses specific situations such as the detection of increased illegal fishing activities or massive events, as well as scheduling fishing activities with small and large vessels in Mexican marine areas in the northern Gulf of California. The Agreement also establishes landing sites and monitoring systems for ships, released on September 24, 2020.
The Agreement underscores the importance of respecting the Zero Tolerance Zone in the Upper Gulf of California with the application of control measures -in the face of unauthorized vessel navigation or net recovery actions-including the partial or total closure of fisheries for up to one month in the Vaquita Refuge Zone.
In coordination with the Ministry of the Environment, SADER and the Navy, the federal dependencies will establish:
- Maritime surveillance patrolling 24 hours a day throughout the year, using surface radars.
- Aerial and satellite surveillance patrols, using crewless aerial vehicles.
- Land surveillance patrols and establishment of checkpoints.
- Actions to recover illegal, lost, or abandoned fishing nets in the area.
In addition, critical level ranges have been placed according to the number of unauthorized vessels and unauthorized nets recovered per day in the Zero Tolerance Area to carry out additional surveillance measures by the authorities. The standards stipulated in the Agreement strive to complement and strengthen the regulatory framework to guarantee the protection of endangered species in the Upper Gulf of California.
As previously reported by MBN, Oceana, a non-governmental association, warns that if Mexico fails to take urgent measures to prevent the problem from worsening, the country could lose out on future opportunities offered by the USMCA. "In order to take full advantage of the economic benefits of this treaty, a traceability standard is urgently needed to provide information on the value chain that fishing products go through," said Mariana Aziz, Director of Transparency Campaigns for Oceana Mexico.