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MEXICO CITY The environmental organization Sea Shepherd said on Thursday that it found the body of what appeared to be a vaquita, one of perhaps 10 remaining in the world.
The remains were too decomposed to be identified immediately, he said, adding that they were turned over to the authorities for analysis.
Two Sea Shepherd patrol boats found the animal on Tuesday in a fishing net in the Gulf of California, the only place where the mammal lives in danger of extinction. The group monitors the gulf, also known as the Sea of Cortez, and removes illegal fishing nets.
The marine vaquitas are entangled in nets placed for the fishing of totoaba, whose swim bladder is considered a delicacy in China.
In a report published a few days ago, an international commission of experts calculated that only between 6 and 22 marine vaquitas remain alive.
The lowest figure represents the number of vaquitas that were spotted on the surface during a trip by the researchers a few months ago. The highest amount was the number of copies that could have been heard in a floating acoustic monitor system.
The commission said that the most probable amount of these remaining porpoises is about 10.
The marine vaquitas are concentrated in an increasingly smaller area of about 24 by 12 kilometers (15 by 7.4 miles), the report said.
“The few vaquitas that remain inhabit a very small area, approximately 24 by 12 kilometers, of which a large part is in the shelter of the vaquitas. However, in this zone the high levels of illegal totoaba fishing occur, “the report added.
Defending vaquitas in the area should not be “an impossible task, because the area that should be protected is not large,” the report added.
However, Sea Shepherd vessels have been subject to increasingly frequent harassment and attacks in recent months. And the totoaba fishing season, in which large fish gather to breed, will peak between these days and May.
The audacity of the illegal fishermen, the small number of remaining vaquitas and the inability of the Navy and the Mexican authorities to stop the poaching has worried the environmentalists, who fear that the marine mammal will soon be extinct.
“Reports from the region suggest that illegal fishing is increasing, and there have been several recent episodes of violence by illegal fishermen against vessels that withdraw their nets and their crews, other legal fishermen, and even the Navy. mexicana, “the commission said in its report.
“These events illustrate the continuing failures of the authorities’ efforts and the lack of respect for Mexican law by fishermen,” he added.
In the latest attempt to save the vaquita, the commission urged the Mexican government to provide 24-hour surveillance and patrols in the small area where they live and “take all necessary measures to protect the equipment that removes the nets.”
“There is only a minimal hope left for the vaquita,” said Kate O’Connell, marine life consultant for the Animal Welfare Institute. “Mexico must act with determination to ensure that all fishing with gillnets ends at the top of the gulf.”
Source: El Nuevo Herald