Although they never left, gillnets would once again be legal in vaquita habitat

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In the negotiations with the fishing sector of the Upper Gulf of California, the Government of Mexico presented a counterproposal that proposes eliminating the “area of ​​prohibition of gill nets"where, at least on paper, the use, possession, manufacture and transportation of this traditional fishing equipment was not allowed, due to its possible interaction with the sea ​​cow

The polygon that would disappear at a stroke with this initiative of the Secretary of the Navy (Semar)goes north, from the town of Salinera del Desierto Rojo, in the municipality of Puerto Peñasco, Sonora and to the south, on El Muerto Island, in Baja California.

You can also read: Mexico analyzes modifying vaquita protection polygons for use in networks

The "gillnet prohibition area", created in 2018 and reinforced in 2020, emerged as a recommendation from the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita (CIRVA), because the historical and potential distribution area is located in these coordinates. of the species.

With this counterproposal, the use of gillnets would only be prohibited within the polygon of the historic Refuge Area for the Protection of the Vaquita Marina, established since 2005 and expanded in 2018 to 1,841 square kilometers.

According to the authorities, the exclusion zone for these traditional nets “will be adjusted to its optimal size for the development of sustainable fishing based on technical-scientific evidence,” which translates into a reduction of 80 percent.

As part of the initiative, the Mexican government intends to increase the Zero Tolerance Zone (ZTC), an “adjacent area”, where the capture of scallops, Chinese snails, octopus, ladybug clams and generous clams is authorized by diving or trapping, where there would be the presence of smaller vessels.

Currently, the ZTC measures 225 square kilometers, and within its limits the use of fishing nets and the transit of any type of vessel are prohibited.

Experts consulted by Excélsior believed that with this initiative, “what is illegal is being made legal”, given the evident inability of the authorities to apply the regulation that they themselves created through an Agreement published on September 24, 2020, in the Official Gazette of the Federation.

They highlighted that despite local and international pressure, the ban on gillnets in the Upper Gulf of California has never been applied, because there is not even the will on the part of Conapesca and Inapesca to provide alternative networks that are economical and environmentally sustainable cooperatives and federations.

They announced that the Government of Mexico will hit a wall with this change in regulation, since it violates the Compliance Action Plan for the protection of the vaquita, which was recently endorsed by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Wild Flora).

In addition, it could cause the United States Government to withdraw the year of grace it granted to Mexico, within the framework of the Pelly amendment, before applying trade sanctions due to the lack of results in the conservation of the most endangered marine mammal in the world. world.

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