VAQUITA RESCUE EFFORTS
During its 8th meeting, the Comite Internacional para la Recuperacion de la Vaquita (CIRVA) approved an emergency conservation action plan to bring some vaquitas into a temporary sanctuary and recommended immediate implementation to save the vaquita from extinction. In response to this recommendation, the Government of Mexico approved the plan and the Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT) has taken the lead to orchestrate the multi-institutional collaboration and plan.
The first actions of the program aim to locate and rescue vaquitas, followed by medical and behavioral evaluations of their suitability for holding in human care. This evaluation will be carried out while caring for the vaquitas in custom built sea-pens for acclimation to human care. A land-based facility has also been built in San Felipe to care for vaquitas if the need arises.
If Phase One is deemed successful, then Phase Two will be initiated, aiming to house and care for vaquitas within a sanctuary in San Felipe, Mexico.
Phase Three is dependent on the success of the previous phases and is aimed at long-term housing, care and breeding vaquitas in a sanctuary until complete elimination of gillnets and the introduction of vaquita-safe fishing practices in their natural habitat is accomplished.
Phase Four involves reintroducing vaquitas back into a gillnet-free, safe habitat in the Northern Gulf of California and actively monitoring them following reintroduction.