January 9, 1985 – The National Marine Fisheries Service declared the vaquita endangered under the Endangered Species Act.

June 28, 2000 – The Center and a binational coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit against the federal agencies responsible for managing water diversions from the Colorado River to ensure that impacts on imperiled species like the vaquita were considered. The lawsuit also sought to obtain guaranteed water flows into the Colorado River Delta.

October 18, 2002 – The Center filed suit and won an injunction blocking a U.S. vessel from conducting deadly seismic surveys in the range of the vaquita.

January 5, 2015 – In a landmark settlement the U.S. government agreed to adopt new rules that ensure seafood imported into the United States meets high standards for protecting whales, dolphins and other marine mammals — like the vaquita.

March 2015 – In an effort to protect the vaquita, the government of Mexico proposed a two-year ban on the use of gillnets in the northern Gulf of California.

May 13, 2015 – U.S. conservation groups, including the Center, petitioned the World Heritage Committee to designate more than 6,900 square miles of ocean and islands in northern Mexico as “in danger” due to the urgent threat of extinction of the critically endangered vaquita porpoise and totoaba (a fish species) in the Gulf of California.

June 19, 2015 – A scientific report released today finds that vaquita porpoises declined by more than 40 percent in a single year, leaving only around 50 individuals of the species likely remaining on Earth.

May 13, 2016 – Scientists announced that fewer than 60 vaquita porpoises likely remain on Earth.

January 5, 2017 – The Center formally threatened legal action to force the United States to sanction Mexico over illegal fishing behind the drastic decline of vaquita. The threatened lawsuit would seek a “certification” from the United States that Mexico's illegal totoaba fishing and trade violates and “diminishes the effectiveness” of a wildlife trade treaty.

May 18, 2017 – With the vaquita population having declined by 90 percent over the last five years, the Center and allies petitioned the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service to ban imports of seafood caught with gillnets in Mexico's Upper Gulf of California to save vaquitas from looming extinction. (Lea el comunicado de prensa en español.)

July 5, 2017 The World Heritage Committee gave Mexico one year to improve protections for the only remaining home of the critically endangered vaquita or face an “in danger” designation for the Gulf of California site. (Lea el comunicado de prensa en español.)

Vaquita photo by Paul Olsen, NOAA