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01 Sep 2016


Aquariums and zoos fight to save critically endangered vaquita
   BY Jennifer Fields

With approximately 60 individuals left in the upper Gulf of California, the vaquita is one of 10 signature species included in AZA’s Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) programme. The AZA community is focusing expertise and resources on projects to ensure this critically endangered small porpoise species is not lost forever.

Since 2010, a number of AZA-accredited aquariums and zoos have taken part in field conservation projects benefitting vaquitas. In 2015, AZA SAFE facilitated a meeting with key individuals from US and Mexican governments to review vaquita conservation needs and identify conservation projects that are now included in the SAFE Vaquita Conservation Action Plan (CAP).

On International Vaquita Day in July, AZA-accredited facilities encouraged individuals to sign a letter requesting Mexican government officials permanently ban the use of gillnets and increase enforcement efforts in the Gulf of California. Issues impacting vaquitas were then discussed between US President Barack Obama and President Enrique Pena Nieto of Mexico on 22 July.

People from all over the world have called for action, and their voices have been heard. Both presidents committed to a stronger bilateral cooperation for vaquita conservation, which includes Mexico permanently banning gillnets throughout the vaquitas’ range, increasing enforcement efforts to halt illegal fishing and strengthening efforts to develop vaquita-safe fishing gear.
Great strides have been taken but we still have more work to do. Learn more at www.aza.org/aza-safe.


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