The imminent extinction of the vaquita marine worries UNESCO

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The Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California, habitat of the vaquita marina, were inscribed in the list of World Heritage in danger...

The Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California, in Mexico, habitat of the vaquita marina, were inscribed on Wednesday in the list of World Heritage in danger. There is an imminent concern about the extinction of this species, Unesco announced in a statement.

The decision was taken at the 43rd meeting of the World Heritage Committee that will be held until the next day 10 in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

Mexico has made efforts to protect this threatened species, including the creation of a refuge area where the few remaining vaquitas live,” said the Paris-based agency.

“Despite these measures, there are only about ten vaquita specimens left today,” compared to almost 300 individuals registered in 2005, lamented Unesco.


The vaquita marina, a species of porpoise endemic to the Gulf of California, is the victim of the growing illegal hunting of totoaba, a species whose swim bladder or buche is a coveted delicacy in China, where up to USD 100,000 per piece is paid.

As a result, the vaquita began its agony due to its incidental capture derived from obtaining that fish, like the town of San Felipe that entered a severe social and economic crisis with the closure of business, low tourism and a high emigration due to lack of employment.

At the beginning of the last century, Chinese and Californian fishermen populated the paradisiacal region of the Upper Gulf of California and began the exploitation of totoaba fish and other endemic species of the region.

This detonated that San Felipe and other towns of the zone became first important fisheries and later, in an important zone of tourist attraction.

Reports of the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita Marina (CIRVA) refer that between the end of the seventies and eighties the population was estimated between 200 and 500 animals.

In mid-2014 it stood at 97, with less than 25 females in reproductive stage. Between September and December 2015, the figure decreased to 60 vaquitas.

The World Heritage Committee encouraged Mexico to “strengthen its monitoring activities to prevent imminent extinction of the vaquita and ensure that the area where the last specimens are concentrated is completely free of gillnets.”

The Committee also called on countries of transit and destination of the totoaba swim bladder to “support the fight against this illegal trade.”

Registered in 2005 on the World Heritage List, the site of the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California, northwest of Mexico, covers 244 islands, islets and littoral areas of the Gulf of California.

With information from Infobae

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