The Mexican government has entered into an agreement with a United States conservation group to monitor efforts to preserve a rare porpoise in the Sea of Cortés.
The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will conduct surveillance and scientific monitoring to prevent illegal fishing that threatens the vaquita marina, which is only found in the upper part of the sea, also known as the Gulf of California.
The government announced in March it had approved a two-year, 1-billion-peso (US $69 million) conservation project that will pay fishermen not to fish and finance other measures such as patrols to enforce fishing regulations. It is estimated that fewer than 100 vaquita remain in existence.
The Natural Protected Areas Commission, which co-signed the Sea Shepherd agreement with the environmental protection agency, PROFEPA, said the pact means there will be “more eyes on the sea” and more allies in efforts to protect species at risk such as the vaquita, the totoaba, sea cucumber and others.
Yet to be defined is a program of collaboration between the non-governmental organization and Mexican environmental agencies that will include scientific research, monitoring and conservation.
The society announced two weeks ago it had had a crew in the Sea of Cortés for more than a month to monitor and protect the vaquita in a campaign it calls Operation Milagro. It said the vessel’s crew had been surprised by the extent of illegal fishing taking place in the area.
“We have called this campaign Operation Milagro because, taking into account the staggeringly small number of vaquitas left, sadly it would be nothing short of a miracle to see one swimming in the sea today,” said the Martin Sheen’s captain, Oona Layolle.
The ship captured some video of a vaquita during a patrol last month.
– Source: http://mexiconewsdaily.com/