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Vaquita (Phocoena sinus)
Individuals left
Gulf of California, Mexico
Illegal fishing nets

“The population dropped dramatically from around 200 to approximately 10 individuals over the decade before 2018. Since then, the population has been fairly stable at 10-20 individuals. Unfortunately, the most likely scenario is that this species will go extinct this year. But this species is tough and has been said to be doomed for many years. Today, however, the population is so small and fragile that the last individuals risk ending up as bycatch in illegal fishing nets in the area, which are designed to catch shrimp and other fish.”

"There is already a ban on net fishing in place in the area. If we are to seriously reverse the trend, it requires the Mexican government to enforce the rules. The vaquitas cannot survive in the long term as long as there is intensive and illegal fishing going on. We need to ensure that local fishermen instead use fishing gear that can’t kill vaquitas and other precious marine life like sea turtles, sharks and even whales.In the long run, consumers must also take responsibility by demanding that the seafood prawns and shellfish they eat come from fisheries that don’t accidentally kill the seas’ largest predators.”

Dr. Barbara Taylor, scientist at International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Cetacean Specialist Group Coordinator.