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Vaquita’s allies will protest Mexican Embassy in D.C.

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Embassy of Mexico on Pennsylvania Avenue. Photo: Getty

A demonstration in Washington is planned to defend the dwindling vaquita population in the Sea of Cortez.

The Animal Welfare Institute has issued an open invitation for 8 to 10 a.m. Friday, July 12 outside the Mexican Embassy, 1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW (map).

The vaquita marina is the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise, found only in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California, or Sea of Cortez. Fewer than 22 individuals (possibly as few as 10) are believed to remain, and the species may be extinct by 2021, The protest follows an International Save the Vaquita Day 2019 series of events on July 6.

Protesters will challenge the Mexican government to make good on its promise to save the vaquita by imposing a permanent ban on all types of gillnet fishing gear in vaquita habitat and by stepping up enforcement.

Where: Mexican Embassy, 1911 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Washington, DC
When: 8-10 a.m., Friday, July 12
Directions: Click here for Google map
Nearest Metro: Farragut West (blue, orange, silver lines)
What to wear: participants will receive a free Save the Vaquita T-shirt (while supplies last)
What to bring: water, sunscreen. Signs will be provided, but participants can bring their own tasteful placards, “nothing rude or overly negative.”
RSVP: info@awionline.org or on Facebook

Gillnets are the biggest threat to vaquitas. They often drown after becoming entangled in nets used to catch a variety of seafood, and in illegal gillnets set for totoaba, whose swim bladder is illegally exported to Asia for soup and traditional medicine treatments.

“President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has to date demonstrated a lack of commitment to wildlife conservation, having reduced the 2019 budget for the Mexican wildlife agency, SEMARNAT,” AWI declared in a press release. “A plan proposed by the administration lacks strong regulatory and enforcement measures, and as a result the vaquita is suffering. Illegal fishing continues to kill vaquitas, including within the Vaquita Refuge Area, a supposed no-fishing zone. Mexico must enact regulations to permanently ban all gillnets throughout the full range of vaquita habitat, and ensure effective enforcement of these regulations if there is to be any hope for the porpoise’s survival.”

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