MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has announced a new plan to protect the vaquita, an endangered species of small porpoise.
One element of the new program will be “to expand the range of protection” for the vaquitas, Peña Nieto said during an event in the northwestern city of Mexicali.
The vaquita reserve occupies part of the Upper Gulf of California and the Colorado River Delta.
Authorities will also provide economic compensation to fishermen affected by a two-year ban on commercial net-fishing in the reserve, the president said.
“It will be a fair compensation for them not to fish and to use fishing tools that do not harm the vaquita,” Peña Nieto said.
Vaquitas, which are found only in Mexico, are often caught in nets used to catch the totoaba, an endangered fish species that is highly prized in China.
A third element in the plan is “a strengthening of inspection and monitoring activities in the region” by institutions such as the federal environmental agency and the navy, the president said.
A fourth component, he said, will be “the promotion of new fishing techniques ... that respect the environment and will be implemented with the full commitment of those involved in fishing to make it a sustainable activity.”
“An activity that poses no risk or alters the environmental order and, above all, that is not a threat to the pledge by Mexico to care for the environment,” Peña Nieto said.
The most recent census shows that the number of vaquitas shrank from 200 two years ago to fewer than 100 now.