Cookie use on MRCVSonline
We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive all cookies.
If you would like to forward this story on to a friend, simply fill in the form below and click send.

Your friend's email:
Your email:
Your name:
 
 
Send Cancel

Rare porpoise faces ‘imminent extinction’
“Having discovered the vaquita less than 60 years ago, we humans have now brought it to the brink of extinction."

WWF calls for urgent global action
 
The critically endangered vaquita porpoise is facing imminent extinction unless steps are taken to address illegal fishing, WWF has said.

There are less than 30 vaquita left in the world, making it the most endangered marine mammal. The population plummeted by 90 per cent since 2011 as a result of gillnet fishing.

Illegal fishing for the critically endangered totoaba, which is used in traditional Chinese medicine, results in vaquita and other marine mammals being caught as bycatch when gillnets are used. The swim bladder of the totoaba fish is highly prized on the Asian markets, believed to cure a variety of illnesses and diseases.

A two-year ban on gillnets is due to expire at the end of May and WWF says that, despite some efforts by the Mexican Government, it has not been able to enforce the ban effectively, resulting in ‘unabated’ illegal fishing and drastic declines in the vaquita population.

Jorge Rickards, acting CEO of WWF-Mexico, said: “Having discovered the vaquita less than 60 years ago, we humans have now brought it to the brink of extinction. Their incredibly low numbers are a stark reminder of how our efforts to protect this incredible species and its habitat are falling short. Unless we act decisively today, we could lose the vaquita forever.”

According to WWF the vaquita, which is found only in the upper Gulf of California, could be extinct by 2018. Campaigners are calling for urgent global action, including a permanent, fully enforced gillnet ban, as well as proper enforcement of existing laws to stop illegal fishing and end the totoaba trade between Mexico and China.

Abandoned nets, or ‘ghost nets’ should also be removed to prevent them from catching and killing wildlife.

There is a need to provide existing, alternative fishing gear and to gain the support of local fishing communities. WWF is urging the Mexican, US and Chinese governments to work together to halt the illegal transport and sale of totoaba products. The UNESCO World Heritage Committee and CITES are being called on to hold Mexico and other governments to account if they do not take action to protect the Gulf of California.

Efforts to protect vaquita include proposals to capture the remaining population and establish a captive breeding programme. However, WWF believes that while this may be necessary as a “last resort”, its recent analysis underscores the risks involved. Any ex-situ plan must be directly linked to a long-term conservation programme for wild vaquita and their habitat, the organisation says.

A healthy Gulf of California is not only key to the vaquita’s survival, it is also vital to other marine species, and the local economy. The site is home to many ecologically and economically important marine populations, and also supports half of Mexico’s total fisheries production, which provides income, food and livelihoods to local communities. 

Illustration © Greenpeace/Marcelo Otero

Become a member or log in to add this story to your CPD history

Classroom pets on the decline

News Story 1
 New research has found there are fewer pets in UK classrooms than in previous generations - despite 88 per cent of parents believing it significantly helps a child’s social skills and development.

More than half of the parents surveyed by Pets at Home (51 per cent) had a class pet as a child, compared to 46 per cent of children today.

The survey also found that non-traditional animals such as chickens, tadpoles, caterpillars and stick insects are becoming increasingly popular alternatives as classroom pets.  

News Shorts
BVA survey seeks views on surveillance

Vets who use veterinary scanning surveillance networks are being asked to complete a survey to help ensure the networks are fully able to protect animals in the UK.

‘Surveillance use, understanding and engagement across the veterinary profession’ is the first of a series of surveillance surveys that will also include localised surveys for Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Drafted by members of BVA’s Surveillance Working Group, it will run until Friday, 31 August 2017. Data collected will inform BVA’s policy position ensuring it is representative of disease surveillance across the UK.