The Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California, in Mexico, the habitat of the vaquita marina, was registered on Wednesday in the list of World Heritage in danger, due to concern about the imminent extinction of the species, Unesco announced in a statement.
The decision was taken at the 43rd meeting of the World Heritage Committee that will be held for the next 10 days in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.
“Mexico has made efforts to protect this endangered species, including the creation of a refuge area where the few remaining vaquitas live and the promotion of alternative fishing gears to the gillnets, responsible for the death by asphyxiation of these marine mammals,” said the Paris-based agency.
“Despite these measures, there are only about ten vaquita specimens left today,” compared to almost 300 registered in 2005, lamented Unesco.
The vaquita marina, a species of porpoise endemic to the Gulf of California, is the victim of the growing illegal totoaba hunting, a species whose bladder or buche is a coveted delicacy in China, where you pay up to $100,000 per piece.
The vaquita is trapped in totoaba nets and drowned. The World Heritage Committee encouraged Mexico to “strengthen its monitoring activities to prevent imminent extinction of the vaquita and ensure that the area where the last specimens are concentrated is completely free of gillnets.”
The Committee also called on countries to “support the fight against this illegal trade.”
Registered in 2005 on the World Heritage List, the site of the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California, northwest of Mexico, covers 244 islands, islets and littoral areas of the Gulf of California.