Please read this amazing firsthand account of the Vaquita situation in San Felipe, Mexico written by Vince Radice. Vince and his wife Maria Ines run the websites http://sancarlos.tv/ and http://worldsaquarium.com/, as well as the Indiegogo campaign to make a Vaquita documentary (the documentary and in-depth accompanying article will be published soon). The article below is very unique in that it is fresh information straight out of fishermen’s mouths (caution, if you are sensitive to certain words, you might want to skip this one). 😉 The comments also have some great points and insight, including validation of an event that occurs in my upcoming Vaquita novel, Nets.
*Video and article currently unavailable.
Chris Johnson of earthOCEAN, creator of the http://vaquita.tv/ website and the famous Vaquita documentary, “Last Chance for the Desert Porpoise,” has recently released a new short film about the Vaquita, titled “Saving the Desert Porpoise.” It is an update on the documentary from 2008, with new info, graphics, and interviews. It is a perfect video to get completely up to date on the Vaquita’s situation. Please read Chris’s article about the film and watch it below: http://vaquita.tv/blog/2013/10/04/new-vaquita-short-film/.
As I am sure you know by now if you have read some of my previous posts, Mexico made a new law (called the Official Norm) that requires all shrimp gillnets to be switched out with Vaquita-safe trawls within the next 3 years. This is obviously enormous news, so even some of the major groups wrote articles about it, among them the WWF, the organization whose petition caused the law to be created in the first place.
However, few to no articles talk about what happens next.
This law is only affecting shrimp gillnets, because they are the only ones who have a Vaquita-safe substitute so far. Finfishing gillnets pose just as big, if not bigger, of a threat to the Vaquita, so they obviously need to be replaced as well. Currently, there are Vaquita-safe finfishing trawls being developed and tested, so hopefully they prove effective and can be implemented in the Gulf as well within the next couple of years, before it is too late.
The other part of the puzzle with this law is the cooperation of the fishermen and the commitment of the government. We are all hoping that the government really does follow through with this plan and succeeds, and from what I can tell, they mean business with this law. They really do want to save the Vaquita, and I believe they will as long as one factor falls into place: the fishermen.
In the end, it is all up to the fishermen. No matter how strict the government gets, the fishermen will be able to slip through their grasp and fish illegally. That is, if the fishermen would rather risk it all just to fish with gillnets. The law plans to train each fishermen on how to use the trawls and compensate them, meaning there is no real loss for the fishermen that participate in this mandatory law. The trawls are a lot more expensive than gillnets, so the government is going to need to use a lot of their tax dollars to make it happen. If you are a Gulf fishermen, please do the right thing and follow the law. Participate in the Official Norm, and tell every other fishermen to do the same. If you live in Mexico, know that every item you buy with tax could be helping save one of your national icons.
You. Yes, you sitting there reading this post. I want you to help this law succeed too. First off, DO NOT BUY FISH OR SHRIMP FROM THE GULF OF CALIFORNIA CAUGHT WITH GILLNETS! If there is no business, there will be no reason to fish. The next thing to do is sign my new and improved petition to the Mexican president, SEMARNAT, and PROFEPA, which asks them to do the things I wrote about in this post:
Thank you so much for your help! If you would like to learn everything you can about the Vaquita while also donating to the species, please buy the first ever Vaquita book, written by me, here: https://www.createspace.com/4268018.
Together, we can save the Vaquita. Let’s do this!
Should we let the Vaquita go extinct?
I had to close my eyes and calmy inhale to even make it through the article. The answer is absolutely, positively, no way in the world, not in a million years, no. He says that perhaps we should let the Vaquita go in order to get the fishermen on board with saving other endangered species of the Gulf. I am not sure if/how that would even work, but there is no way that the scientists and conservationists who have worked on saving the Vaquita for their entire careers would just let the Vaquita ‘slip away.’ I am not arguing with the fact that the Vaquita is in a tough situation right now, and that there has been phenomenal effort by the Mexican government to seemingly little avail. I am not arguing with the fact that the Vaquita is a life-changing ‘nuisance’ to the fishermen that they will likely never see in their entire lives, yet they have been very cooperative with NGOs and the government for the most part.
But this is about the big picture. The Vaquita cannot be a canary in a coal mine. It is not an option for us to learn from our mistakes on the Vaquita. We have already lost the Baiji because of human activities. Those beautiful dolphins were sacrificed so we could learn what not to do with an endangered species. The Vaquita is the test. If we can save the Vaquita, we can do anything. Tigers, pandas, rhinos, polar bears, and every other endangered species can benefit from us saving the Vaquita, not letting it go extinct. The Baiji has already filled that role.
It is also about the little picture. The Vaquita simply deserves to live. If you were born before 1958, then the Vaquita was discovered in your lifetime. Now it could go extinct within the next few years. Your life could completely encompass our knowledge of the existence of an entire species. We definitely do not want that. The Vaquita as an animal is extremely unique. We will absolutely never have a species like the Vaquita again if we lose Phocoena sinus.
So the real question is, “Now that we know the Vaquita can’t go extinct, how are we going to save it?” In June, an enormous step was taken by the Mexican government in the form of a new regulation that will phase out all shrimp gillnets to Vaquita-safe trawls within the next 3 years. This is great news, but this doesn’t mean our work here is done. The government still has to pull through with their promise, as well as develop safe trawls for finfish, not just shrimp. For now, you can help the Vaquita by raising awareness, not buying seafood caught in gillnets, and raising money towards the switch-out program. For more details, visit https://vlogvaquita.com/2013/07/14/update-the-big-3/.
So my point is, there is no way we can give up, especially after all this time and effort. This is where we need to explore the limits of human teamwork to save something that’s not a human. The Vaquita has never done anything to us, so why should we accept murdering every last one? This adorable, innocent little porpoise deserves every drop of blood, sweat, and tears we can squeeze out of ourselves. And even if the Vaquita does eventually go extinct, I could not live with myself knowing that we didn’t try our hardest to rescue it.
We need to at least, as my tennis coach would say, go down swinging.
Below is an awesome article by Sandy Mazza from dailybreeze.com. The article features interviews with William Whittenbury and Diane Alps, two people whom I coordinated with a lot for the July 6 event. The very accurate article nicely recaps all of the important information about the Vaquita and its very special day, July 6.
Here is an awesome article by WWF about the petition and resulting law that requires all gillnets to be switched out within the next 3 years. I cannot help but hold WWF mainly responsible for this amazing new breakthrough, considering 38,000 people from 127 countries signed their petition to the Mexican President, and that they helped create and test the nets that are now replacing gillnets. An amazing touch is that the article has a really neat map showing how many people from all around the world signed the petition with cool Vaquita graphics, courtesy of MapHook!
Also, below is a link to a QR Code to V-log. If you don’t know, a QR Code is a code that you can scan with your phone if you have one of the many QR scanner apps that automatically sends you to the site or product that the code is linked to. This is just another easy way to share or open my blog on your mobile phone. So please, share this post (click on the title of the post and then scroll down and use the sharing buttons, if you are on V-log) and scan the image with your phone. Also, I now have a Google Plus+ account, so if you guys would like to add me to your circles to get some new Vaquita updates, search Aidan Bodeo-Lomicky.
About a week ago, the Mexican government took an enormous step in saving the Vaquita. The government has created something called the “Official Norm,” a regulation that plans on completely switching out all gillnets with Vaquita-safe trawls in the next 3 years. They hope to switch out 30% this year, 30% next year, and 40% in the third year. This giant step was taken due to the over 38,000 signatures on WWF’s petition to Enrique Peña Nieto, the Mexican president. Read WWF’s article about this landmark announcement: http://wwf.panda.org/wwf_news/?208988%2FMexico-approves-measure-to-save-worlds-rarest-marine-mammal.
To donate to the switch-out through the American Cetacean Society Los Angeles Chapter’s new switch-out charity, send a check by mail to: P.O. Box 1208, San Pedro, CA 90733-1208. It is very important that you write “Vaquita” on the memo line for it to go to the switch-out.
If you would like to help make the Official Norm successful, please copy, paste, and send this resolution created by the Muskwa Club to any member of the U.S. government that you can:
A Resolution to Support Mexico in its Effort to Prevent the Extinction of the Vaquita.
WHEREAS, The Vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal, with less than 200 individuals remaining, and is heavily threatened by incidental gillnet bycatch; and
WHEREAS, The Vaquita is likely to become extinct within the next several years; and
WHEREAS, It would not be acceptable for extinction of an intelligent and unique species to occur; and
WHEREAS, The government of Mexico has adopted an Official Norm to replace all shrimp gillnets within the Vaquita’s range with sustainable fishing gear within the next three years;
RESOLVED, That the Congress here assembled commends the government of Mexico for its step to save the Vaquita and strongly encourages the government thereof to successfully complete the program within the allotted time; and, be it
FURTHER RESOLVED, That the government of the United States highly recommends that the government of Mexico develop sustainable finfishing gear as a further guarantor of the Vaquita’s survival.
Introduced for Congressional Debate by (will be filled in shortly).