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Groups Seek to Protect Imperiled Vaquita Porpoises Through U.S. Ban on Imports of Mexican Seafood Caught With Dangerous Nets

Gillnets Used in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California Violate U.S. Bycatch Standards

WASHINGTON— Conservation groups petitioned the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service today to ban imports of seafood caught with gillnets in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California, in order to save the critically endangered vaquita porpoise.

The vaquita population has declined by 90 percent over the last five years, with fewer than 30 of the small porpoises left on the planet. Entanglement in gillnets is the sole threat to the species’ survival, with scientists predicting that the vaquita will be extinct in two years if fishing practices remain unchanged.

“We can’t leave any tool unused that will help get the vaquita’s killer — gillnets — out of their habitat,” said Zak Smith, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Marine Mammal Protection Project. “The fishing industry is driving the vaquita’s extinction — and pressure on that group to fix their practices may be the most important way to save the porpoises. The United States must immediately ban the import of any seafood from Mexico that is contributing to the vaquita’s extinction.”

Read more.

Learn more about saving vaquitas.

Contact: Sarah Uhlemann

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Banner photo Center for Biological Diversity; vaquitas by Paul Olsen/NOAA