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Please act now before it is too late.


Gulf of California, the narrow body of water that extends between the Baja Peninsula and mainland Mexico. Since 1997, around 80 percent of the world’s vaquitas have perished as bycatch, many in gill nets operated by illegal totoaba fishermen.


The world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise lives only in Mexico’s northern Gulf of California. Only 30 vaquita remain, after suffering decades of decline due to entanglement in shrimp fishing gear.

Mexico’s fishery agency is failing to fulfill its promises to save the vaquita. Without strong action, these little animals could disappear from the planet forever by 2019.  

You can help stop the extinction. The Boycott Mexican Shrimp campaign is calling on Mexico to permanently ban all dangerous gillnets in vaquita habitat, step up enforcement, and remove illegal nets from the water.

Join the Boycott Mexican Shrimp campaign and send the strongest possible message to Mexico: Act now or we lose the vaquita forever.



The vaquita is the world’s smallest and most endangered porpoise, living in only one place on Earth—Mexico’s northern Gulf of California.

Only 30 Vaquita Left

Only 30 vaquita remain. Half the vaquita population was lost between 2015 and 2016 alone. At this rate, the vaquita may be extinct by 2019—just 2 years from now.

Vaquita face one major threat: entanglement in gillnet fishing gear. Gillnets are nets that hang down between two buoys and snag nearly everything that swims by, including vaquita. For decades, these nets were used in the Gulf to catch shrimp, supplying the lucrative market in the United States.

From 1990 to 2010, the Mexican shrimp industry was primarily responsible for the loss of over 70 percent of the vaquita population, as the number of vaquita dropped from 700 individuals to just 200. 

Photo of Totoaba Bladder

By 2010, another problem emerged. Fishermen in the Gulf also began illegally setting gillnets to catch totoaba, a large fish that is itself endangered. Demand for the totoaba’s swim bladder—which is used in China for soup perceived to have medicinal benefits—skyrocketed. A single bladder sells for astronomical prices, with some fetching up to $50,000. The vaquita population continued to plummet as a result, and by 2015, there were only 60 vaquita left.

As of November 2016, only 30 vaquita remain. If this decline continues, our planet will lose the vaquita forever by 2019.



Mexico said it will ban the use of gill nets for shrimp fishing in an area of the northern Gulf of California that is the habitat for the endangered vaquita marina porpoise.

The national fisheries commission said on Wednesday the permanent ban on gill nets used in shrimp fishing will go into effect in September.

The population of vaquita marinas has dropped sharply in recent years to the point that only about 60 survive in the northern Gulf of California, the only place in the world they are found.

The species is believed to be headed for extinction unless conservation measures are adopted.

Scientists attribute the decline to their being caught in the various types of nets used to catch shrimp, sea bass and sharks.

A spokeswoman for the environmentalist group Sea Shepherd said the shrimp net ban was a “good start” but not enough to save the rare porpoise.

“We would hope that they would permanently prohibit all types of gill nets,” said Sea Shepherd’s Oona Isabelle Layolle.

Nets used to catch sea bass and shark are believed to also be used to illegally fish another endangered species, the totoaba, a type of drum that is much in demand in China.

A temporary ban on the use of those nets has been in place since April 2015 and could be made permanent when it expires in April 2017, Rigoberto Garcia, a fisheries commission official, told AFP.

The Mexican government has pledged to provide $70 million to help fishermen hit by the gill net ban to make the transition to other methods of fishing.

Gulf of California, the narrow body of water that extends between the Baja Peninsula and mainland Mexico. Since 1997, around 80 percent of the world’s vaquitas have perished as bycatch, many in gill nets operated by illegal totoaba fishermen.

In Mexico, Fish Poachers Push Endangered Porpoises to Brink

China’s lucrative black market for fish parts is threatening the vaquita, the world’s most endangered marine mammal. The porpoises, who live only in the Gulf of California, are getting caught up as bycatch in illegal gill nets and killed.

Reports and helpful documents:
CIRVA reports I, II, III
CIRVA report IV 
CIRVA report V
CIRVA report  VI
CIRVA report VII
Taylor 2016
Jaramillo-Legoretta 2016
Rojas-Bracho 2006
Rojas-Bracho 2013
Center Pelly petition
Center Pelly notice letter
AWI + Center WHC petition
EIA Collateral Damage
EIA Dual Extinction report

Over the past 25 years, Mexico has proposed numerous plans to limit gillnet fishing and “save” the vaquita, including in 1993, 2005, and 2008.

Each plan ultimately failed due to Mexico’s lax enforcement efforts.

In April 2015, Mexico issued a new, two-year ban on most gillnet fishing in vaquita habitat. Once again, enforcement has been dismal.

In March 2016, three vaquita were found dead due to gillnet entanglement. Many more likely died without being recovered. In late 2016, the Mexican government, Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, and Gulf fishermen conducted a 21-day search of a small portion of the upper Gulf. The search revealed 136 pieces of abandoned fishing gear, including 36 illegal totoaba gillnets and 36 illegal shrimp gillnets. In February 2017, 22 illegal nets were recovered, along with 16 dead totoaba, all with their swim bladders removed. In addition, 14 dolphins, a Bryde’s whale, and other marine species were killed.

Recently, shrimp vessels have been caught fishing illegally in a vaquita refuge. And a loophole in the gillnet ban allowing continued gillnet fishing for corvina caused a spike in illegal totoaba fishing. Totoaba fishermen use the legal corvina fishery as cover for their illicit activities.

Most disturbing, Mexico recently indicated it may lift the gillnet ban in April 2017. That would be a death knell for the vaquita.