Mexico Invests to Save Endangered Porpoise
This is such a great idea.
Mexico is investing in its endangered porpoise population.
They will invest about 163 million pesos (about $16 million) to save the porpoise in the upper Gulf of California, buy paying fisherman to change their habits or give up the trade completely.
Scientists say the population of the vaquita marina -- Spanish for "little sea cow" -- has dwindled to 150 or fewer from more than 500 a decade ago.
Plans include paying fishermen to avoid the porpoise's habitat or give up drag nets that drown dozens of the shy, dolphin-like animals each year. Some will even be paid to stop fishing forever.
"We want to save a species at risk without putting humanity at risk," Environment Secretary Juan Rafael Elvira said at a ceremony kicking off the program.
Some US$13 million of the funds will go directly to families along the upper gulf. Working fishermen will be paid US$4,500 each to stay out of the nature preserve covering most of the vaquita's habitat.
Fishermen at the ceremony said the money would likely fall short of their lost revenues.
"We're participating to help save the species," said Oscar Javier Garcia, who agreed to keep out of the nature preserve if paid. "We're not convinced, but we're participating."
The government will also pay to teach fishermen how to catch fish in a safer manner, so that the porpoises will be given the chance to breed and grow their numbers again.
The government has really stepped up to the plate here - I just hope that it works and isn't too late.
Vaquita have never been hunted directly. Indeed their continued existence was only confirmed by a dedicated survey in 1985. However it is known that the Vaquita population is declining, and that this is due to animals becoming trapped in gillnets intended for capturing another species endemic to the Gulf, the totoaba. CIRVA, the Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, concluded in 2000 that between 39 and 84 individuals are killed each year by such gillnets. The Vaquita is listed by the IUCN and the Convention on International Trade in the Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in the most critical category at risk of extinction. In order to try to prevent extinction, the Mexican government has created a nature reserve covering the upper part of the Gulf of California and the Colorado River delta. CIRVA is recommending that this reserve be extended southwards to cover the full known area of the Vaquita's range and that trawlers be completely banned from the reserve area. Even if the number of Vaquita killed by fisheries is reduced to zero, concerns remain amongst conservationists.