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North American environmental commission launches trinational vaquita conservation plan
Date:10/28/2008

Mexicali, Mexico, 28 October 2008In response to the urgent need to save the vaquita porpoise, the governments of Canada, Mexico and the United States asked the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (CEC) to formulate a strategy to support Mexico's efforts to recover the world's most-endangered marine mammal.

Today, the CEC launched the North American Conservation Action Plan (NACAP) for the Vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a vital cooperative initiative that is the result of contributions from scientists, academics, environmental groups and officials in the three countries.

The vaquita is critically endangered and its population is estimated at only about 150 individuals. Unless concrete conservation actions are taken, the effective size of the populationindividuals capable of reproductionmay fall to just 50 adults in the next two years.

The main and most immediate threat to the vaquita's survival is their incidental capture in fishing nets, such as gillnets and drift nets. About 40 vaquitas are estimated to die each year from incidental capture.

Though the vaquita only inhabits the waters of the Upper Gulf of California, in Mexico, the three countries in North America consider it to be a species of common continental concern.

One of the greatest challenges in the integration of the plan has been to link conservation efforts with the well-being of the fishing communities of San Felipe, Golfo de Santa Clara and Puerto Peasco. The document lists a series of priority actions aimed at finding economic alternatives for local residents and, especially experimenting with vaquita-safe fishing methods. With international cooperation, the efforts already begun by the Mexican government can be strengthened.

"The objective of the recovery efforts is for people who make their living from fishing to see the vaquita as an opportunity for economic and social well-being, and not a threat to their future,
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Contact: Eduardo Viadas
eviadas@cec.org
514-350-4331
Commission for Environmental Cooperation
Source:Eurekalert

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