World Wildlife Day

Today, March 3rd, is World Wildlife Day. Today is the day to take the time to appreciate our planet’s incredible creatures. In recent years, we have been depleting our world’s natural resources, especially our amazing animals. The Vaquita is one of these animals. We cannot afford to lose it in the fight against extinction, and there are many ways to help the Vaquita today.

One way is to purchase an awesome Beach Bar Radio ¡VIVA Vaquita! t-shirt, where all proceeds go to the Vaquita! The campaign ends in 28 days and their goal is 50 t-shirts. I will be getting one for my birthday!

You can also purchase my book, The Vaquita: The Biology of an Endangered Porpoise, for only, $12.95, again with all profits going to Vaquita charities.

The Vaquita: The Biology of an Endangered Porpoise

An even easier and free way to help the Vaquita is to participate in the Post-a-day Challenge! Simply write at least 1 post on social media every day for the entire month of March. #SaveTheVaquita

Post-a-day Challenge

Of course, there are many other ways to help the Vaquita, such as cooking to save the Vaquita, or just by telling your neighbors about the world’s most endangered marine mammal. No matter how big or small your contribution is, just know that the Vaquita greatly appreciates it!

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Cooking to save the Vaquita

It is no secret that gillnets are the only danger to the Vaquita’s population. It has been that way for as long as we have known about the endemic little porpoise. So it should be quite clear what needs to happen in order to save it: get the gillnets out of the Vaquita’s range. A huge step in making this a reality is completely eliminating the purchasing of gillnet-caught seafood from the Gulf of California. The Gulf’s principal exporter is the company Ocean Garden, and the people there are big on Vaquita conservation and even founded the group Alto Golfo Sustentable (Sustainable Upper Gulf). Here is a quote from one of their newsletters:

“As a founding member of the sustainability group Alto Golfo Sustentable, Ocean Garden has taken a leadership role to protect the endangered vaquita marina porpoise and the Sea of Cortez environment, improve the efficiency of the shrimp fishery and support the native fishermen.”

It is extremely important and comforting that the primary marketer of the Gulf’s shrimp prioritizes Vaquita conservation. This should mean that the only gillnet-caught shrimp from the Gulf is for self-sustenance or local markets. However, it is thought that up to 80% of the Gulf’s shrimp is exported to the United States. It is therefore vital that we support sustainable fishing for two reasons: first, to save the ocean (the whole point of sustainable fishing), and second, to encourage the gillnet-users to make the switch to Vaquita-safe gear when they see the success of sustainable fishermen. So of course, this gave me an idea…

The idea is to use this blog as a sharing platform for sustainable recipes in order to spread the excitement of saving the Vaquita. I got the idea while reading this great post about the restaurant Misión 19’s Vaquita-friendly shrimp celebration. I have started off our own celebration by making Shrimp in Coconut-milk Broth, a dish inspired my Misión 19 chef Javier Plascencia. It was absolutely delicious and 100% sustainable.

Shrimp in Coconut-milk Broth Recipe

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Now it’s your turn. Do you know any sustainable seafood recipes? If not, a great resource is Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch. You can even create your own dishes! Leave your recipes in the comments or even make them yourself and share it on Facebook or your own blog and send me the link. I will post any recipes I receive and might even make a few myself if they sound really good! The most important thing is that the seafood is sustainable and you have fun while helping the Vaquita!

I look forward to seeing what all you cooks out there can stir up! 😉

Increasing awareness

Today I finished reading the North American Conservation Action Plan (NACAP) for the Vaquita. You can read it online here: http://www.cec.org/Storage/62/5476_Vaquita-NACAP.pdf (the English section starts on page 48).

It is a very in-depth paper from 2008 with extremely important and relevant information. It reaches a similar conclusion to many other papers in that the fishermen are willing to help the Vaquita as long as they do not lose their income for it and their families can still be sustained. Basically the entire world wants to help the Vaquita, including the fishermen, so really all that needs to be done is our governments work together to complete all of the goals required to save it before time runs out.

I was particularly interested in the matrix provided on pages 76-79 that charts all of the priorities for saving the Vaquita, as of 2007, according to the CEC. Many of the things listed have already been done, which is promising. Below is the section for increasing awareness, with the first box containing the action, the second showing the priority (more ! = more important), and the third showing the time frame. I am really excited to try to help make these things happen, and I am sure the Muskwa Club will play a crucial role in these endeavors. All of these things are past their due date, but that does not mean they shouldn’t be done. Earlier in the paper it states, “The [conservation] sector also stressed the value of having information flow smoothly among the various sectors [fishing, aquaculture, tourism, and conservation] so that problems can be identified and solutions sought in a timely, efficient manner.” This idea is extremely similar to the Muskwa Club’s idea of the Vaquita Preservation Alliance, which I will write about once the details are figured out after the Muskwa Club – American Cetacean Society Los Angeles meeting on October 25.

(Click the chart if the words are too small.)

Increasing awareness

How to help

According to Viva Vaquita, some ways YOU can help the Vaquita are:

Tell all your friends and family about the Vaquita.

Support conservation measures and vote for politicians with a good environmental record.

Support the Mexican economy by traveling to Mexico.

Do not buy shrimp or fish caught with gillnets.

Write your elected officials and tell them to help the Vaquita.

Write a letter to the President of Mexico and tell him to save the Vaquita. Felipe.Calderon@presidencia.gob.mx

Send Vaquita drawings to the United Nations, asking them to support Vaquita conservation efforts by Mexico.
ExecutiveOffice@unep.org

Send a message to the Mexican government to show your support for the Vaquita! Below are the most relevant agencies and links to their online suggestion boxes:

SEMARNAT (Ministry of Natural Resources)
http://www.semarnat.gob.mx/Pages/buzonciudadano.aspx

CONANP (Commission of Natural Protected Areas)
http://www.conanp.gob.mx/buzon.php

Donate to the Vaquita Recovery Fund!
http://www.vivavaquita.org/donations.htm

Conquer the net

Through thick rustling leaves of beige and toast,

O’er crisp vast ice whiter than a ghost.

Down streetways and alleys swarming with crowds,

Up huge frosty mountains piercing the clouds.

Down rift valleys and ‘cross frozen tundra,

African deserts and the Land Down Under.

The world is huge, with room to spare,

But something’s somewhere, and only there.

Dive in the sea, sink like a fallen ship.

Swim until you reach the southernmost tip

Of California, then head through the foam,

And find the place Vaquita call home:

The Sea of Cortés, rich and warm,

With rainbow fish teeming in swarms.

The tiny Vaquita, gentle and few,

Are vanishing quickly; what do we do?

They happily swim ‘mong coral and kelp,

In spite of this, they need our help.

Gillnets trap them and take their lives,

Until now, we’ve ignored their strife.

Be brave, la Vaquita, and do not fret.

Side by side, we’ll conquer the net.

Adiós

I swim in a place where fish float by.

Croakers, grunts, and shrimps you fry.

Silky sea grass below, shiny sun above,

But the Gulf isn’t a place filled with much love.

You catch us with nets set out for shrimp,

And at the moment of impact, our bodies go limp.

Our entire kind is quickly disappearing.

The weight of an entire species we’re bearing.

But the one thing we care about most:

Vaquita don’t have to say “Adiós”.