Vaquita survival hinges on stopping international swim bladder trade

first_imgFEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page.Banner image of totoaba and vaquita by Omar Vidal. Recent investigations by the Elephant Action League and WWF have uncovered the complicated trade in fish swim bladders from the Gulf of California that is pushing a porpoise known as the vaquita toward extinction.A two-year-old gillnet ban so far has not yet stemmed the declining numbers of vaquita, which are down 50 percent since 2015 and 90 percent since 2011.Not more than 30 vaquita remain in the wild, making it the most endangered cetacean on the planet.The swim bladders can sell for as much as $20,000 per kilogram. Totoaba maws, or swim bladders, for sale in China. Photo courtesy of the Elephant Action LeagueNew evidence lays out the intricate trade in animal body parts that conservation groups say are driving two marine species in Mexico’s Gulf of California closer to extinction. The battle to save them will have to be fought on fronts in several countries.The vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a tiny porpoise that averages just 43 kilograms (95 pounds) and 1.5 meters (5 feet), is the world’s most endangered cetacean, a group that includes whales and dolphins. In large measure, that’s because they share their habitat with a fish called the totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi) in a small slice of the Sea of Cortez between mainland Mexico and the Baja California peninsula. Gillnets intended for totoaba, as well as other fish, efficiently ensnare vaquita. Their numbers have plunged by 90 percent since 2011, according to a recent report by the conservation group WWF.Surging demand in China for the totoaba’s swim bladder, or “maw,” which helps the fish to float, is driving the harvest, sweeping up vaquita in the process, according to the report from WWF and a separate investigation by the watchdog group Elephant Action League. The totoaba itself is a Critically Endangered species according to the IUCN. To protect the vaquita, the organizations argue for a multinational effort to stop the flow of totoaba maws out of Mexico and through countries such as the U.S., as well as curbing the demand for them in southeastern China.“Given the dire circumstances surrounding vaquitas and the issues associated with the totoaba swim bladder trade in Mexico, including possible corruption and involvement of drug cartels, it is vital to fully research, investigate, and map all aspects of the totoaba supply chain,” said Andrea Crosta, executive director of the watchdog group Elephant Action League (EAL), in a statement.An acoustic monitoring program by WWF revealed that almost half of all vaquita, which lives only in the Gulf of California, disappeared in the past two years. The Mexican government responded with a temporary gillnet ban in 2015, which it renewed on May 31. But Jorge Rickards, acting CEO of WWF-Mexico, said that Mexico needs to make sure fishers are complying with the ban.Vaquita swimming in the Gulf of California. Only 30 remain in the wild. Photo by Paula Olson“This extension will not be enough to save the vaquita and its valuable habitat,” Rickards said in a statement from WWF. “We have seen vaquita numbers continue to plummet over the last two years because the existing ban was not sufficiently enforced and gillnets continue to threaten the Upper Gulf of California.”Gillnets are set vertically in the water column to trap fish as they swim by. WWF and other organizations have criticized their use, saying that they are indiscriminately destructive, snagging not just the target fish, but anything that swims through one of the nets’ holes and gets stuck. Both EAL and WWF blame this fishing method for the decimation of the vaquita population, which now sits at fewer than 30 individuals.“Mexico must commit to a permanent gillnet ban, and that commitment must be matched by collective action across borders,” said Leigh Henry, a senior policy advisor at WWF-US, in the WWF statement.The reports from EAL and WWF contend that China and the U.S. should shoulder some of the responsibility for facilitating the maw trade. EAL’s investigation indicated that Hong Kong and Taiwan may also serve as waypoints before the maws ultimately end up in the hands of buyers – for more than $20,000 a kilogram (about $9,100 per pound) on average – in China. There, the maws are used in traditional medicine and as gifts in business dealings.An illustration of a vaquita, the world’s smallest porpoise (and cetacean), averaging 43 kilograms and 1.5 meters. Image by Marcelo Otero/Greenpeace Mexico, courtesy of WWFEAL’s undercover investigation also revealed that players key to the trade of these body parts may live in the U.S. and Mexico. Despite the fact that maws are illegal in China, the group also found that demand from the southeastern province of Guangdong is “stable,” which is bad news for the remaining vaquita.“Vaquita are collateral damage of the global wildlife crime epidemic, plummeting toward extinction because of an illegal trade that has nothing to do with them,” WWF’s Henry said. “Mexico, the U.S. and China need to act immediately and decisively to kill the trade that’s killing the vaquita.”WWF also called upon the treaty organization CITES – short for Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora – and others to step up their work to hold these countries accountable.“The vaquita has no more time left,” Rickards said. “It needs action today.”NOAA Fisheries picture from 1992 showing a vaquita captured as bycatch (bottom) along with a totoaba (top) in Sonora, Mexico. Photo by Omar Vidal Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Animals, Biodiversity, Bycatch, China’s Demand For Resources, Cites, Conservation, Defaunation, Dolphins, Endangered Species, Environment, Extinction, Fish, Fishing, Mammals, Marine, Marine Biodiversity, Marine Conservation, Marine Ecosystems, Marine Mammals, Megafauna, Ocean Crisis, Oceans, Overfishing, Vaquita, Wildlife Article published by John Cannonlast_img

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