Several conservation groups have sued the Trump Administration for not complying with federal law and banning the importation of shrimp and other seafood caught in the Upper Gulf of California, Mexico, with gillnets that choke the vaquita marina, a species in danger of extinction.
The lawsuit, filed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Animal Welfare Institute, at the United States Court of International Trade, in New York, calls for judicial intervention and an immediate ban.
The three environmental groups claim that a US ban Mexican imports of shrimp and other fishery products from the Upper Gulf of California will exert direct pressure on that country to completely prohibit gillnets in the waters where the vaquita (Phocoena sinus) lives.
The complaint of these associations stems from the fact that in the last two decades 95% of the population of this animal has been lost. In this regard, they point out that its decline has accelerated in recent years, and that around 50% of the population is dying now every year when it is caught in gillnets.
In addition, they emphasize that scientists predict that the vaquita will soon be extinct, something that could even happen next year if Mexican fishing practices remain unchanged.
“The United States is a major importer of fishery products caught in the upper Gulf of California,” said Susan Millward, director of the marine animal program at the Animal Welfare Institute. “The prohibition of importing sea products caught with gill nets in the vaquita habitat will eliminate a key incentive to continue using this destructive fishing gear in the region.” The United States’ seafood market should not contribute to the extinction of a species, “he said.
The Marine Mammal Protection Law requires that the US government prohibit imports of seafood from foreign fisheries that cause death or injury to marine mammals, including the vaquita, at a rate that exceeds US standards. The unprecedented decline of the vaquita, 50% of the population each year, does not comply with US standards, argue the NGOs.
In December, the three organizations filed another related lawsuit against the Trump Administration, seeking an immediate response to an emergency petition filed in May 2017.
Source: FIS Fish Information & Services