Mex­ico bans gill­net fish­ing in en­dan­gered por­poise’s habi­tat

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Mex­ico en­acted a per­ma­nent ban on gill­net fish­ing in the north­ern Gulf of Cal­i­for­nia on Fri­day in a bid to pro­tect the crit­i­cally en­dan­gered por­poise known as the vaquita marina. The mea­sure, which makes per­ma­nent a tem­po­rary ban in place since April 2015, is the first step to­ward ful­fill­ing an agree­ment reached this month by Pres­i­dent En­rique Pena Ni­eto and the foun­da­tions of ac­tor Leonardo Di­Caprio and tele­com bil­lion­aire Car­los Slim to try to save the vaquita.

The diminu­tive vaquita is the world’s small­est and most en­dan­gered marine mam­mal, with only about two-dozen re­main­ing in their habi­tat in the up­per Gulf. Their numbers have been greatly re­duced in re­cent decades by the il­le­gal use of gill­nets, which are pri­mar­ily used to catch the to­toaba fish but can en­snare and kill vaquitas as well. The World Wildlife Fund is­sued a state­ment sup­port­ing the ban.

“This is a fan­tas­tic and encouraging step for­ward in the path to sav­ing the vaquita, pro­vided the ban is fully en­forced and ac­com­pa­nied by fish­ing al­ter­na­tives for local com­mu­ni­ties,” act­ing CEO Jorge Rickards was quoted as say­ing. De­spite au­thor­i­ties’ oft-ex­pressed com­mit­ment to sav­ing the vaquita, en­force­ment has not been en­tirely ef­fec­tive. The swim blad­der of the to­toaba is prized in China and can sell for huge sums, of­fer­ing a pow­er­ful fi­nan­cial in­cen­tive for fish­er­men to pur­sue that catch at the vaquita’s ex­pense.

The newly per­ma­nent mea­sure pro­vides for mon­i­tor­ing in the re­gion es­pe­cially for fish­ing ves­sels and land­ing sites. It will be il­le­gal to trans­port gill­nets into the area, and fish­er­men will be re­quired to re­port any lost gear to avoid harm­ing the del­i­cate ecosys­tem. Mex­ico is the first coun­try to en­act such a ban on gill­nets, also known as ghost nets due to their in­vis­i­bil­ity to marine mam­mals. “Great news as the per­ma­nent ban on gill­nets has been made of­fi­cial,” Di­Caprio said in a Twit­ter mes­sage that was retweeted by Pena Ni­eto.—AP

AT SEA: This il­lus­tra­tion of a Vaquita Marina, pro­vided by Green­peace, shows an im­age of the highly en­dan­gered sea mam­mal swim­ming in the sea.—AP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.