/ Modified sep 27, 2021 10:09 a.m.

Mexico, Sea Shepherd reach agreement to return patrol ships to Sea of Cortez

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s activist crews will once again patrol the Upper Gulf of California for fishing nets considered the leading threat to the vaquita marina porpoise.

Vaquita sea shepherd Crew members from Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's ship in the Sea of Cortez.
Kendal Blust/Fronteras Desk

After months away, a conservation group has reached an agreement with Mexican officials to return to the uppermost part of the Sea of Cortez to help protect a critically endangered porpoise.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s activist crews will once again patrol the Upper Gulf of California for fishing nets considered the leading threat to the vaquita marina porpoise.

The group has worked in the region since 2015. But has been absent since early this year, when a confrontation with alleged poachers led to a crash that left a fisherman dead.

The new deal with Mexican officials will allow the conservation ships to return, but the crew must report abandoned nets to officials who will remove them from the water.

Sea Shepherd says it has removed more than 1,000 gillnets from the region to protect not only the few remaining vaquitas, but other marine life often killed in the nets, including dolphins, sea turtles and whales.

There has been increasing pressure on Mexico to take action to save the estimated 10 remaining vaquitas. But some have been frustrated by authorities decisions to change enforcement practices, potentially leave the small mammal at greater risk.

Fronteras Desk
Fronteras Desk is a KJZZ project covering important stories in an expanse stretching from Northern Arizona deep into northwestern Mexico.
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