Thank You, WWF Mexico, For Your Work In The Gulf Of California

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There are just 60 vaquita marina left in the wild, according the the latest estimate. Photograph: Ho New/Reuters

Even when there is tragic news, we take some comfort in seeing the WWF’s ongoing efforts to counter our worst tendencies as humans to deplete natural resources irresponsibly. Thanks the Guardian, and its French colleagues, for this news:

World’s smallest porpoise ‘at the edge of extinction’ as illegal gillnets take toll

Now only 60 of Mexico’s vaquita marina left despite the navy enforcing a ban on the fishing net, latest study shows

Environmentalists warned on Friday that Mexico’s vaquita marina, the world’s smallest porpoise, was close to extinction as the government reported that only 60 were now left.

The population has dramatically dropped despite the arrival of navy reinforcements in the upper Gulf of California in April 2015 to enforce a ban on fishing gillnets blamed for the vaquita’s death.

The porpoise’s population had already fallen to fewer than 100 in 2014, down from 200 in 2012, according to the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), a global group of scientists.

Mexico’s environment ministry said in a statement a joint study with CIRVA between September and December estimated the latest population at “around 60”.

“The vaquita is at the edge of extinction,” the World Wildlife Fund said in a statement, warning that 20% more have probably died in nets since January.

The vaquita’s fate has been linked to another critically endangered sea creature, the totoaba, a fish that has been illegally caught for its swim bladder, which is dried and sold on the black market in China.

Poachers use illegal gillnets to catch the totoaba and the vaquita, a shy 1.5-metre-long (5ft) cetacean with dark rings around the eyes, is believed to be the victim of bycatch.

President Enrique Peña Nieto imposed a two-year ban on gillnets in April 2015 and increased the vaquita protection area tenfold to 13,000 square kilometres (5,000 square miles).

He deployed a navy patrol ship with a helipad, a dozen high-speed boats and two planes to enforce the prohibition…

Read the whole story here.

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