The vaquita is an endemic species of porpoise found only in a small region in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California. Illegal fishing is responsible for the decline of this species, whose numbers have plummeted to fewer than 20 individuals.
Since 2015, Sea Shepherd has worked with Mexican authorities and leading researchers to save the vaquita and remove the illegal fishing gear that plagues the Vaquita Refuge – a UNESCO-recognized and federally protected area in which gillnet fishing is banned. Six ships from the Sea Shepherd fleet – the Martin Sheen, the Farley Mowat, the Age of Union, the John Paul DeJoria, the White Holly, the Sharpie, and most recently the Seahorse – have collectively removed over 1,000 pieces of illegal fishing gear from the refuge to date, directly saving the lives of over 4,000 fish, rays, sharks and other creatures of the sea, giving the vaquita a fighting chance at survival.
Sea Shepherd Conservation Society (SSCS) announced a 90% reduction in illegal fishing activity in the Zero Tolerance Area (ZTA) of the Vaquita Refuge in the 75 days since the new ship M/V Seahorse was introduced into the campaign to protect the Vaquita Porpoise. 2022 saw a 79% reduction in hours of illegal fishing, and this announcement builds on that progress.
The record reduction in threats to the Vaquita is the result of “Operation Milagro”, the partnership with Sea Shepherd and the Government of Mexico that protects the Zero Tolerance Area of the Vaquita Refuge. The partnership keeps the UNESCO-recognized protected zone free of the illegal fishing gear that ensnares the world’s most endangered marine mammal.
News of the 90% reduction was shared by Sea Shepherd’s Chief Scientist Andrea Bonilla in a program entitled “Progress in Conservation” on April 18, 2023 in Washington D.C. The program featured Ambassador Moctezuma, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States, Sea Shepherd’s Chairman and CEO Pritam Singh, as well as Captain Carlos Ruiz, Director of Fisheries Inspections and Vigilance for the Navy of Mexico, and various Sea Shepherd officials.
Every moment, every gillnet, and every remaining vaquita can mean the difference between survival and extinction for this rare cetacean. Your support can help save a species.
Visit seashepherd.org/dac to get involved before time runs out.