Mexico's Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California is truly an incredible place, teeming with wildlife and stunning for its rugged islands and beaches. That's why the area was granted World Heritage status in 2005.
Yet, despite the honor, two of the site's most treasured species -- the vaquita and totoaba -- could soon be extinct.
The vaquita is the world's smallest and most endangered porpoise, with fewer than 100 remaining. For years they've been snared in shrimp nets. But increasingly, vaquitas are also caught in illegal nets set to catch totoaba, an endangered fish. The totoaba's bladder is in high demand for traditional Asian medicine, and the black-market trade has made the situation worse.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee is tasked with monitoring its protected areas and can list any site as "in danger" if there's a serious decline in the endangered species, such as the vaquita and totoaba, the property was established to protect. An "in danger" designation could provide the much-needed push to focus international attention on these species, oversee Mexico's protection efforts and garner funds for the area's conservation.
June 8, 2015 Action Alert ID# 232
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