That’s the not-terribly cheerful news from Nature on the vaquita (Phocoena sinus), a porpoise from Mexico’s Pacific coast:
In 1999, researchers estimated there were 567 vaquitas left in the northern Gulf of California. Mexican biologist Armando Jaramillo-Legorreta, lead author of the new report, says that the rising number of fishing boats is killing the porpoises at a rate of at least 40 a year. A population of about 100 must be saved for sufficient genetic diversity, the team says.
Previous attempts to create no-fishing zones and buy out fishermen in the vaquita’s habitat have failed. But now the environmental groups WWF, Nature Conservancy and Conservation International have joined forces in a $10 million pledge.
That’s the good news. The bad news:
Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón Hinojosa, has joined the push to save the animal. But fishing industry advocates sometimes speak openly of wiping it out.