Porpoises On The Brink Of Extinction Face Daunting Odds For Survival

Environment: NPR


Marine Mammal is on the verge of extinction in Mexico's Gulf of California. Conservationists have been trying to save the the Keita Porpoise for years but that work has been complicated by the nets and even drug cartels from Arizona public media in Tucson area Brosius reports seafood restaurants. Colorful mosaics line. The Boardwalk in downtown San Felipe pay fishing is a mainstay of the small northern Mexico. Town love I keep. The restaurant is just a couple blocks over a framed photo of the little porpoise that could be. The town's mascot hangs in the office of Ramon Franco the as head of a local fishermen cooperative representing about five hundred and seventy families is sending. Well it though this earth announced that animal as you must know only lives here in this area and it's ours belongs to us. Mexicans for decades of akitas population has been declining as fishermen inadvertently catch them while pursuing fish and shrimp but dea says many local fishermen treasure the animal when it rises above the water with its characteristic. Black rimmed is he says That causes those do those. It's as if it was smiling with you. So real fishermen don't WanNa harm them. It's the opposite in the last few decades. Mexico has established of Akita Refuge and backed research into the species but lately the number of Akita has plummeted around just a dozen or less as poaching for another endangered fish called. The Toba has ramped up. Fishermen use large Gill Nets to trap the toe to Wada. Which also killed Akita in two thousand fifteen Mexico's then president banned Gill Nets in the Vicki habitat increased enforcement against poaching and started paying fishermen not to work so the species could recover. This little sanitizer came to an agreement that we would leave the sea so that the federal government clean up the illegal boats but Diaz says enforcement was insufficient. Problem got worse. He says he's filed numerous complaints with the government to no avail then a year ago. The payments fishermen stopped those. Odi The liberal Emma. So now we have a serious problem. Because we don't have a fishing practice that is permitted. And we also don't have any compensation. Last September Diaz announced his fisherman had no option but to return to the sea to support their families. He says two thousand eighteen. Us Ban Mexican seafood caught with Gillnets has only made life harder for legal fishermen. Mexico missed an opportunity to be a world leader in shifting a fishery over from Gillnets to alternative gear. Barbara Taylor is marine conservation biologist with the US government who studied the Makita for thirty years. She says the Gillnet Ban wasn't very effective. Because some fishermen hurting financially were tempted into the illegal Totowa Trade F- Iquitos and Gill Nets are completely incompatible. And the fishermen needed to be able to make a living and so developing alternative fishing methods. Were really the only way for Bikita. Survive Louise Mendosa is working on it in his centrally bay office. He pulls a large thin strand net from a milk crate. Wait to the bottom. He's a member of pesca obeys. Say A small nonprofit group of fishermen working with the Mexican government to test alternative driftnets like this one called suit. Peta for this war with the current only with but Mendoza says using these nets can be nearly impossible because of the sheer number of illegal gill nets under the waves. He says even though it's cheaper it will be hard to convince fishermen to use it. They've become very effective. The Gill Nets and with this kind of equipment. You have to get money. The Keita Researcher Barbara Taylor says Mexico needs to support legal fishing if alternative nets prove less profitable and crackdown on poaching. Akitas prime habitat. She still has hope for the species but there are fewer of Akiba every year though. Two of poaching is rampant because the fishes swim bladder is highly prized in China. As a medicinal food. Because there's a little money is more money than drugs. I mean we're talking about twenty thousand dollars twenty five dollars for one soon blind. Jp Geoffroy leads the Conservation Group Sea Shepherd's Makita protection efforts. He says that money has attracted international drug cartels and during high season there can be dozens of boats fishing illegally inside the Vicki to refuge for the last five years sea shepherd has been working with some local fishermen to collect Gill Nets. Trying give the species a fighting chance to recover important. Centrally Bay Crew Members. Use a hook to move huge bags of fishing gear. They've pulled from the ocean. All these boxes contain all Guinea. Gotten it that way we move from riveted by Kedah not all local support sea shepherd's work recently suspected poachers fired shots at a sea. Shepherd vessel in the Makita refuge despite that tension. Geoffroy says they support local fishermen who just want to do their job. We are just trying to work with them and explain to them to. At least respect the small rectangle release the critical area. Geoffroy says if they can just protect the remaining Makita the species can recover but for now observers. Say there's little evidence that current efforts to stop poaching will be enough for NPR news. I'm Arianna Brosius.

Coming up next