Mexico this week permanently banned gill nets as part of a last-minute effort to save the vaquita from extinction. Just 30 or fewer of these critically endangered porpoises (Phocoena sinus) remain in their only habitat, the Gulf of California. The cetaceans frequently die after becoming entangled in gill nets, which poachers use to catch the totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi), an endangered fish whose swim bladders sell to Chinese consumers for thousands of dollars a pound. Conservationists have called for a ban on gill nets for years. Vaquitas have continued to die while poachers continued their efforts under the cover of legal operations.
The Revelator will cover this developing story extensively in the coming weeks.