For the first time in its 70-year history, the International Whaling Commission has issued an "extinction alert."
Known as the world’s tiniest porpoise, the vaquita is facing the potential danger of becoming critically endangered, the IWC says.
The Vaquita is found only in Mexico's Gulf of California, and its population has undergone a drastic decline, plummeting from about 570 in 1997 to a mere 10 by 2018.
The number has remained constant since, and IWC is calling for support from not just the public but everyone at every level to take actions to safeguard the vaquita.
"The extinction of the vaquita is inevitable unless 100% of gillnets are substituted immediately
with alternative fishing gears that protect the vaquita and the livelihoods of fishers. If this doesn’t happen now, it will be too late," said the IWC in a statement released this week.
According to the IWC, efforts to halt gillnet fishing have been complicated by the illicit cross-border trade in totoaba fish, and the IWC wants "multi-disciplinary actions" against those who use gillnets.
"Despite the very low number of surviving animals, 100% enforcement of a ban on gillnets in their core habitat would still give this small but resilient porpoise a chance of recovery," said the IWC.
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