On July 6, AWI cosponsored a “Save the Vaquita” rally at the Mexican Embassy in Washington, DC. The well-attended gathering (despite pouring rain) received wide coverage in Mexican media and followed a flurry of actions aimed at staving off extinction for the vaquita. In mid-June, Representative Jared Huffman (D-CA) held a briefing on vaquita, with AWI taking part on the panel; Rep. Huffman also sent a letter, signed by 30 colleagues, urging the Departments of Interior and Commerce to help save the species. On June 30, the Mexican government issued a new regulation—purportedly a permanent ban on gillnets, the leading cause of vaquita mortality.
On July 5, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee (WHC) told Mexico it has one year to improve protections for the Upper Gulf of California World Heritage site or face an “in danger” designation for the area. In 2015, AWI and the Center for Biological Diversity called on the WHC to list the site as “in danger” due to the vaquita’s rapid decline.
Despite these efforts, the situation remains dire, especially as the new Mexican regulation is not a ban on all gillnet use. Corvina and mackerel fishers can still use these deadly nets, and the rule fails to prohibit their possession, sale, and manufacture.