A porpoiseful action

“Boycott Mexican shrimp,” says the URL:

The world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise lives only in Mexico’s northern Gulf of California. Only 30 vaquita remain, after suffering decades of decline due to entanglement in shrimp fishing gear.

Mexico’s fishery agency is failing to fulfill its promises to save the vaquita. Without strong action, these little animals could disappear from the planet forever by 2019.

You can help stop the extinction. The Boycott Mexican Shrimp campaign is calling on Mexico to permanently ban all dangerous gillnets in vaquita habitat, step up enforcement, and remove illegal nets from the water.

Join the Boycott Mexican Shrimp campaign and send the strongest possible message to Mexico: Act now or we lose the vaquita forever.

They’re not kidding. The vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is listed as “Critically endangered” on the IUCN Red List; the only worse categories are “Extinct in the wild” and “Extinct,” period.

Mexico’s previous efforts to save the vaquita have not been what you’d call notably effective:

[I]n 2008, Mexico launched the program PACE-VAQUITA, another effort to help preserve the species. PACE-VAQUITA compensates fishermen who choose one of three alternatives: rent-out, switch-out, and buy-out.

In the rent-out option, fishermen acquire temporary contractual obligations to carry out conservation efforts. They are paid if they agree to terminate their fishing inside the vaquita refuge area. There is a penalty if fishermen breach the contract which includes getting their vessels taken by the government. The switch-out option provides fishermen with compensation for switching to vaquita-safe harvesting technology. Finally, the buy-back program compensates fisherman for permanently turning in their fishing permits, as well as their respective gear. In 2008, because of how few fisherman were enrolling in the switch-out option, PACE VAQUITA added a yearly, short-term option for fishermen, letting them simply rent the vaquita-safe fishing equipment yearly for compensation. Then, in 2010, this option was broken down even further, giving fishermen the option of buying the vaquita-safe net, or paying the yearly rent, but for less compensation. Despite these efforts, the probability that these attempts at conservation will work is slim. Only about a third of fishermen in the area have accepted these terms so far.

I don’t buy a whole lot of shrimp from anywhere, but seafood is supposed to be marked with the country of origin, and it won’t hurt me to read the packaging material once in a while.


  1. McG »

    18 March 2017 · 3:35 pm

    I could snark about what Mexico cares enough about to invest real effort in, but Trump would probably retweet it.

  2. Holly H »

    20 March 2017 · 11:38 am

    Thank you for this posting. Personally, I decided that it’s easier just to cut out shrimp altogether, since they usually don’t taste good any more, anyway. On the other hand, I’ve drifted back into using tuna, after Aldi’s convinced me that theirs in sustainable, ‘pole-caught’. I’d better keep myself honest by looking that up.

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