Can the vaquita be saved from extinction?
Gerardo Rodríguez Quiroz
WENCESLAO VALENZUELA QUIÑONEZ
Héctor Abelardo González Ocampo
Alfredo Ortega Rubio
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"The vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is considered the world’s most endangered marine mammal. It is the smallest member of the porpoise family endemic to the upper part of the Gulf of California. The current population is estimated at <30 individuals. The primary reasons for the species decline includes limited habitat and incidental mortalities associated with illegal gillnet fishing activities. Since 2008, the Mexican government has taken environmental and economic actions to protect the vaquitas, focusing on reducing bycatch deaths to zero. In 2015, a federal agreement decreed by the Secretaría de Agricultura, Ganadería, Desarrollo Rural, Pesca y Alimentación prohibited the use of any fishing gillnets for 2 years, severely affecting local human communities because coastal fisheries in the region represent 40% of the gross domestic product and 50% of the local inhabitants are devoted to this activity. Recently, an economic welfare compensation program is giving monthly to fishermen who have fishing permits if they do not continue with their fishing activities. However, none of these actions have fully considered the range of social and economic solutions for the local inhabitants of this region. The paradigms of the contemporary conservation programs must also focus on the well-being of local fishing communities to prevent the vaquita from becoming the second marine mammal species to disappear due to human activities."
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