The vaquita is the most endangered marine mammal in the world. It is a tiny porpoise that is found only in the Upper Gulf of California. Its decline has been primarily caused by bycatch, or accidental capture in fishing gear. Efforts to conserve this hapless species have stirred up a veritable maelstrom of controversy and distrust. For a good overview of the situation, see this article by Andy Revkin.
Our project aims to understand the perspectives of different groups that are affected by or have an interest in vaquita conservation. We are conducting interviews with diverse stakeholders in the communities of San Felipe and El Golfo de Santa Clara, as well as involved government agencies and NGOs based in Ensenada, Mexicali, and San Diego. Our main focus is: what might the future of vaquita conservation look like under different scenarios, and what can and should be done to achieve an optimal situation in those scenarios?
This partnership between the Gulf of California Marine Program at the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation (Scripps Institution of Oceanography) and the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research will lead to a report for the communities of San Felipe and El Golfo de Santa Clara, research and conservation organizations, and the government. Hopefully, the results of this project can help communities and conservation groups communicate and work together.