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Mexico intensifies protection for the vaquita and totoaba


Semar and Sea Shepherd signed a historic agreement for the conservation of both endangered species.  Photo: Special
Semar and Sea Shepherd signed a historic agreement for the conservation of both endangered species. Photo: Special

The Marine Secretary announced that the Government of Mexico and the International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, signed a historic agreement on October 3. Which is focused on the conservation of endangered specieswhich expands by more than 60 percent the area where the “Operation Miracle” of protection of the Vaquita Marina.

This operation protects the Zero Tolerance Zone (ZTC) from fishing gear illegal that trap and kill the endemic species of the Vaquita Marina within its refuge recognized by the UNESCO.

The document is called, Specific Collaboration Agreement to Strengthen Joint Actions that allow Preserve and Protect the endemic species Vaquita Marina and Totoaba. And it was signed by Admiral José Rafael Ojeda Durán, Secretary of the Navy and C. Pritam Singh, Director of the Board of Directors and President of the International NGO Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Likewise, said act was witnessed by C. Esteban Moctezuma, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States of America.

In accordance with the provisions of the agreement, the protection extends to the west and southeast of the current Zero Tolerance Zone of said refuge, in order to include protection actions in the areas where a significant number of Vaquita Sightings during the observation cruise study in May 2023.

In addition, this agreement expands the protocols of Operation Miracle throughout the Vaquita Marina Refuge Zone (ZRV), including the protection of Totoabaa species that is also threatened by illegal fishing.

Signing of the collaboration agreement with the Secretary of the Navy and Conapesca to continue protecting this species in danger of extinction.  (@emoctezumab)
Signing of the collaboration agreement with the Secretary of the Navy and Conapesca to continue protecting this species in danger of extinction. (@emoctezumab)

“We are deeply grateful to our partners in the Government of Mexico for expanding Operation Miracle and exponentially increasing capacity to help protect these two species,” said Pritam Singh, Executive Director of Sea Shepherd during the signing of the agreement.

“More protection means a better chance of survival for the Vaquita Marina and Totoaba. “Your future remains our only objective.”

“The successful partnership between SEMAR and Sea Shepherd is a clear example of what can be achieved in maritime conservation with unwavering commitment and trust,” said Esteban Moctezuma, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States of America.

“This unique partnership has strengthened efforts to protect natural resources and ocean diversity, providing agile and effective solutions for the protection of endangered species such as the Vaquita Marina and Totoaba. We look forward to continuing and expanding this collaboration for many years to come.”

Members of the Mexican Navy observe the ship for the protection of the Vaquita Marina.  REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan
Members of the Mexican Navy observe the ship for the protection of the Vaquita Marina. REUTERS/Toya Sarno Jordan

These are the commitments made by the Mexican Navy Secretariat and the actions it will take to fulfill them.

  • Permanently monitor the Zero Tolerance Zone (ZTC) with the use of ships and boats.
  • Appoint federal naval fisheries inspectors aboard vessels belonging to the NGO Sea Shepherd during maritime patrols in the Vaquita Marina Refuge Zone (ZRV) and the Zero Tolerance Zone (ZTC), with the aim of serving as observers during the procedures that are implemented in the presence of vessels with prohibited fishing gear, detection of ghost nets, among others.
  • Continue with the removal of prohibited nets, as well as the eviction of vessels that are within the Zero Tolerance Zone (ZTC).



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