WARNING!!!!! FEBRUARY 2019: "The VAQUITA population is now down to only about 20 individuals! »

Ramses Rodriguez Ramirez, Pro Natura Noroeste A.C. (Mexique)

The CIRVA (International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita) has just closed its annual meeting:

The Gulf of California harbor porpoise population has suffered a record 40% loss of individuals in only one year.


"The Gulf of California porpoise (Phocoena sinus), commonly known as Vaquita, is the smallest cetacean in the world. Endemic to the Gulf of California, the species is classified as "critically endangered" on the Red List of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). (...) While natural factors have a definite influence on its mortality rate, its vulnerability is more largely linked to human activities, and in particular to artisanal fishing and poaching of the Totoaba fish (Totoaba macdonaldi), carried out with gillnets. Unfortunately, the Vaquita has been a bycatch of these nets for many years. Fishing pressure is all the more devastating when the reproductive cycle of females is long.

According to current estimates, if the effort to completely eliminate Vaquita bycatch is not strengthened, the population will become extinct by 2022. Many past conservation efforts have helped slow its decline, including the establishment of marine protected areas free of gillnet fishing, but none of these efforts has effectively made it stop. The official ban on fishing with these nets in these areas was not strictly enforced. The recommendations of the CIRVA on the complete absence of bycatch and the development of alternative fishing gears were endorsed by the Mexican government in April 2015, with the following provisions: an increase in the Vaquita refuge area, a 2-year moratorium on fishing activities specifically threatening the species, financial compensation for fishermen, as well as the toughening of Mexico's fight against Totoaba poaching. These measures are supported by the International Whaling Commission's Scientific Committee on Small Cetaceans (2015) and CITES (2016)." NEREUS, April 2016




The Vaquita and Totoaba are both listed on the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Red List as Critically Endangered. They are also listed in Appendix I of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

The Mexican government, aware of the importance of preserving biodiversity, took part in April 2015 in this cause involving many NGOs (WWF, Pro Natura, Sea Shepherd, etc.) and international commissions (CIRVA, OECD, IWC, etc.). The government's provisions were to allow NGOs, in collaboration with the country's environmental authorities, to continue to develop and test alternative fishing gears known as "Vaquita-friendly" with local fishermen, while illegal fishing (gillnets and Totoaba poaching) were to be subjected to increasing surveillance.

However, in October 2015, the authorities banned all forms of fishing, including those intended for research, for a period of 2 years, preventing researchers from carrying out their experiments to elaborate Vaquita-safe gears. These authorities claimed it was impossible to establish control tools in order to differentiate between fishermen and research-oriented fishing or alternative fishing methods.

In addition, the authorities still have no legal framework to effectively prosecute illegal fishing.

This is an extremely dangerous slowdown in this race against time!

The SCS is engaged to ensure that the work on Vaquita-friendly fishing methods is resumed as soon as possible and that surveillance of illegal fishing finally becomes effective. Join us!

Vidoo of M. Hugo Clément during his program "Sur Le front des océans" on France 2 of November 26, 2019. This confirms the urgency to save the Vaquita's population. (Watch the video by clicking here !)


The collaboration between Pro Natura Noroeste A.C. and SCS began in 2014. As part of its work on the world's most endangered species, the SCS decided to join the fight to save the last Vaquitas from extinction. SCS therefore decided to identify the local institutions involved in this cause, and that's how both NGOs got to discussing the project of developing alternative so-called "Vaquita friendly" fishing gears, which would help avoid bycatches. As a result, the SCS and Pro Natura Noroeste A.C. sign

a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) and the funds collected are used to support the project in 2015.

This is what you can do to help support the SCS and Pro Natura Noroeste A.C. in fighting this battle and accelerating the process:


Support actions in the field:

 With a donation of CHF 350, you will contribute to the implementation of tests to develop the traceability of the "Vaquita-friendly" system.


With a donation of CHF 300, you are contributing to the development of regulations for the "Vaquita-friendly" label.

With a donation of CHF 250, you will contribute to the work on accessing the marketing of "Vaquita-friendly" fishery products.


With a donation of CHF 150, you are helping develop a fishermen's organisation that endorses the use of "Vaquita-friendly" methods.

Nets - RS - INP - MX technology and experimental nets known as " Vaquita-friendly ".



Thanks to all of the funds provided in 2015, Pro Natura Noroeste A.C. was able to manufacture 48 fish traps (24 funded by WWF and 24 funded by the SCS), carry out 94 experimental field trips (including 80 funded by the SCS - 20 trips with the nets and 60 with the traps) and equip some local fishermen with the new gears.

The tests carried out required optimization in 2016 in terms of fishing time, recording statistics, distribution of the nets and traps by boat, costs (e.g. types of bait) and benefits (e.g. preservation methods of fishery products to expand sales to adjacent communities).

The Pro Natura Noroeste A.C. team is working alongside on the regulation, on the methods' traceability and on the creation of a label. It is studying the marketing process of products under this label, and is trying to unite local fishermen backing "Vaquita-friendly" fishing so that they can advocate for them and raise consciousness.

RS - INP - MX technology
Source: Pro Natura Noroeste A.C.

Source: Pro Natura Noroeste A.C.

Experimental fish trap
Source: Pro Natura Noroeste A.C.