Mexico given 60 days to respond on danger to VAQUITA


Mexico has been asked to answer to claims that it has failed to appropriately safeguard a critically endangered porpoise in the Sea of Cortez by a commission of the US-Mexico-Canada trade pact. 

The Commission for Environmental Cooperation of the USMCA has given Mexican officials 60 days to respond to a petition filed by conservation groups in August alleging that the country is failing to enforce environmental laws meant to protect the vaquita marina porpoise, a small, cute mammal on the verge of extinction. 

"It's the first step, and it's a very important one," said Alejandro Olivera, a senior scientist and Mexico representative for the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the groups that submitted the petition.

He said depending on Mexico’s response, the commission could decide to carry out a full investigation.

All countries are required to enforce environmental regulations under the USMCA.

If the commission finds that Mexico is not in compliance, the US may seek official enforcement action and impose trade sanctions against the country. 

Scientists say with only an estimated 10 left, there is no time to waste in protecting the vaquita marina, which can get tangled in fishing nets and drown.

“By turning a blind eye to continued gillnet fishing in the vaquita’s habitat, Mexican officials are choosing to lose this species forever. Only strong international pressure can change Mexico’s mind and save these incredibly imperiled animals, Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity, added in a press release.

She and others say Mexico must be held responsible for failing to take actions necessary to protect the vaquita from extinction.

Mexico has changed its enforcement operations in the vaquita's habitat in recent months. However, conservationists are concerned that the alterations will put the small mammal in even more danger. 

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