We Demand Justice for the Vaquita

With less than 30 animals left, the vaquita is one step away from extinction. It is surprising that despite the many national and international regulations, laws and government programs to preserve this species, nothing has worked.

The reason for this is that the government has not done its work: fishing for totoaba continues and Mario Aguilar, head of the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (Conapesca) has allowed the commission that he directs to obstruct any attempt to save the vaquita.

We ask Enrique Peña Nieto for his immediate dismissal.


It is time to demand Justice for the vaquita!

When you sign this petition you are sending this letter to president Enrique Peña Nieto.

Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto
Presidente de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos

As a citizen of this country and knowing of the critical situation that the vaquita is now in, an endemic species of Mexico, I want to show my concern about and indignation with the measures adopted by your government which have been unsuccessful in saving this small marine mammal.

Despite your public declarations of commitment to the vaquita, the population has declined 90% during your administration. This a figure more than worrying, since if this tendency continues, the vaquita will become extinct during the remaining time of your government.

The reason why these measures haven’t worked are mainly due to the fact that none have attacked the root cause of the vaquita’s eminent extinction, which is the totoaba fishing in the vaquita habitat.

The negligence of the fishing authorities has undermined efforts to save the vaquita, boycotting the measures that the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT in Spanish) has tried to implement; for example:

  1. Although conducting inspections and surveillance is their obligation, the National Commission of Aquaculture and Fisheries (known as CONAPESCA in Spanish) has been absent, even when fishing was banned, keeping the vaquita population at risk of being caught in gill nets.
  2. Although the recommendations of the International Vaquita Recovery Committee and governmental programs such as the Program for Conservation of the Species (PACE) Vaquita have emphasized the reduction of fishing, Conapesca has done the opposite, authorizing more vessels in the Alto Golfo and an increase of 86% in the maximum allowable catch of dolphin curvina, in the last five years.
  3. The National Fisheries Charter has not been updated since 2012 even though by law this should be done every year.
  4. There is evidence of CONAPESCA's obstruction in the granting of permits for fishing with alternative methods, requiring additional documentation, as well as delaying the delivery of license, and even giving permits to continue using chinchorro nets, which put the vaquita at risk. These actions discourage the adoption of alternative fishing methods among fishing communities, who continue to expect Conapesca and Inapesca to fulfill their obligation to develop options that they can use to continue fishing.

These examples demonstrate the negligence of the fishing authority CONAPESCA led by Mario Gilberto Aguilar Sánchez, who during the years of his administration has favored an extractivist fishing model over the protection of the environment which has contributed to the imminent extinction of the vaquita.

For the above reasons, I am asking for the immediate dismissal of Aguilar Sánchez as the director of Conapesca; that the National Fisheries Charter will be updated to reduce fishing in the vaquita habitat and, in turn, that a plan be implemented to promote truly sustainable fishing that will protect our oceans and the communities that depend on them.


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