AWI’s Annual Rally to Save the Vaquita

Vauqita Illustration by Frederique Lucas

Dear Humanitarian,

The vaquita is the world's smallest and most endangered porpoise, found only in Mexico's northern Gulf of California. Fewer than 30 individuals are believed to remain. Once again AWI has joined forces with a number of other organizations to rally outside the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC, to bring attention to their plight, as part of the International Save the Vaquita Day 2018 series of events.

Please join us as we continue to challenge the Mexican government to make good on its promise to save the vaquita by (1) imposing a permanent ban on all types of gillnet fishing gear in vaquita habitat and (2) stepping up enforcement.


Where: Mexican Embassy, 1911 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC

When: 8:00-10:00 AM, Thursday, July 5

Directions: Click here for the Google Map

Nearest Metro: Farragut West (blue, orange, silver lines)

What to wear: participants will receive a free Save the Vaquita T-shirt (while supplies last)

What to bring: water, sunscreen, enthusiasm! We'll have signs, but feel free to bring your own tasteful sign (nothing rude or overly negative). Please do not block the sidewalk or step into the road during the rally.

RSVP: or on Facebook

Please be sure to share our "Dear Humanitarian" eAlert with family, friends, and co-workers, and encourage them to come out and voice their support for this gentle porpoise. As always, thank you very much for your help!


Gillnet fishing gear is the biggest threat to vaquitas. They often drown after becoming entangled in nets used to catch a variety of seafood, and in illegal gillnets set for totoaba, an endangered fish that is also found only in the Gulf of California. The totoaba's swim bladder is illegally exported to Asia to make soup and for unproven traditional medicine treatments.

In June 2017, after years of international pressure, Mexico announced a ban on most gillnets in the northern Gulf of California and promised to increase enforcement action against the growing illegal totoaba fishery. Unfortunately, that ban did not cover all gillnets, and illegal fishing continues to kill vaquitas, including within the Vaquita Refuge Area, a supposed no-fishing zone. Mexico must enact regulations to permanently ban all gillnets throughout the full range of vaquita habitat, and ensure effective enforcement of these regulations if there is to be any hope for the porpoise's survival.

A recent population estimate for vaquita published by international scientific experts indicates that roughly 30 animals remain in the Upper Gulf. At least eight vaquita have been found dead since 2016, with clear signs of having been entangled in fishing gear. Time is running out for the vaquita—extinction is forever, and we need your help to pressure the Mexican government into taking immediate action. Everything that we can do to help save the vaquita will also help all other marine species—sharks, sea turtles, dolphins and whales—threatened by gillnets in the northern Gulf of California.


Cathy Liss

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Vauqita Illustration by Frederique Lucas