On the final day of June 2017, we received some excellent news from the Mexican Government. An official agreement, which bans gillnet fishing permanently in the protection zone of the vaquita in the northern Gulf of California, was made public. The agreement, which is effective upon publication, was dated 21 June 2017. As always, much depends on how the new rules are implemented, and how effective enforcement will be, but this is a critical step needed for the long-term conservation of the vaquita (and many other species) in the northern Gulf. Importantly, it includes bans on night fishing and on transporting or possessing gillnets in the area, though it does exclude the active use of gillnets in the corvina (curvina) and sierra fisheries. The permanent gillnet ban is absolutely essential for the vaquia to have a future in its natural habitat and is something that scientists and conservationists have been requesting for many years, and so as we approach ISTV Day on 8 July, there is truly something to celebrate!
Photos taken under permit (Oficio No. DR/488/08 from the Comisión Nacional de Áreas Naturale Protegidas (CONANP/Secretaría del Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT), within a natural protected area subject to special management and decreed as such by the Mexican Government. This work was made possible thanks to the collaboration and support of the Coordinador de Investigación y Conservación de Mamíferos Marinos at the Instituto Nacional de Ecología (INE).