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The Government of Mexico analyzes the possibility that shrimp fishing can be carried out in the habitat of the marine vaquita; look for solutions to prevent this activity from damaging this endangered species.
After high-level meetings with US authorities, the Government of Mexico builds an exit to the crisis in the Upper Gulf of California, which would allow fishermen from San Felipe, Baja California and the Gulf of Santa Clara, Sonora to return to the sea with gillnets up to 400 meters in length.
In this way, the possibility of paying economic compensation to permit holders, fishermen and the productive chain of the communities is cancelled, as was the case until December 2018.
The strategy that works as the most viable solution in the region, is to divide the refuge area of the sea vaquita of 1,841 square kilometers into three zones, the first zero tolerance, where navigation of vessels would not even be allowed.
The second is to carry out diving activities with diving and sustainable techniques, and one more where the use of traditional fishing gear is authorized.
According to the acoustic monitoring program of the International Committee for the Recovery of Vaquita (CIRVA), the few remaining vaquitas, between 6 and 19 specimens, inhabit a very small area of the Upper Gulf of California, approximately 24 x 12 kilometers, within the refuge area and where high levels of illegal fishing of Totoaba fish are reported .
Mexico’s commitment to make way for this initiative includes, among other aspects, increasing inspection and surveillance in the marine mammal’s most endangered marine protection polygon, that all smaller vessels have a tracking system installed and that the networks of gill bearing physical markers, to know exactly who they belong to.
The next step to finalize the proposal is for the National Aquaculture and Fisheries Commission (Conapesca) to publish a new regulatory framework that replaces the Agreement published in the Official Gazette of the Federation (DOF) in May 2015, which prohibits all Commercial fishing in the Upper Gulf of California.
For the eventual initiative to offer substantive solutions to the families of the habitat of the vaquita marina, it must contemplate the issue of the market, since since August 2018 a fishing embargo on the part of the United States weighs on the region, which does not allow them to export its products such as blue shrimp, which is in great demand in California.
This situation greatly affects fishermen because they have to settle for selling it at the beach at 150 pesos per kilogram, instead of the 20 dollars that were once offered by US buyers, which sometimes is not enough for them to even pay the fuel they use for their boats.