In a meeting today at the White House, US President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto stepped up bilateral collaboration to protect the critically endangered vaquita porpoise, of which fewer than 60 remain on the planet. In response, WWF issued the following statement from Omar Vidal, CEO of WWF in Mexico:
“These commitments show strengthened bilateral resolve to saving the world’s most endangered marine mammal.
“A permanent ban on the use of gillnets is a landmark moment in the fight to save the vaquita. Now this ban must be fully enforced, and bilateral commitments to rid local waters of abandoned ‘ghost nets’ must be implemented. These common-sense solutions offer the greatest hope for the future of the vaquita and to improve fishermen´s livelihoods in the Upper Gulf.
“In the end, immediately halting the illegal fishing and trade of totoaba fish is paramount to reversing the vaquita’s decades-long decline. We urge Presidents Peña Nieto and Obama to follow up on today’s dialogue by engaging China to address the demand driving illegal totoaba fishing and trade. Together, Mexico, the US, and China can take urgent and coordinated action to stop the illegal fishing, trafficking, and consumption of totoaba. By ending totoaba poaching, we are safeguarding the future of the vaquita.”