Resolution 2007-5

Decisions Document Number
Long Title
The Vaquita, from critically endangered to facing extinction

CONCERNED with the finding of the Scientific Committee concurring with the recent results of the baiji
survey in the Yangzte River that has led the scientific community to conclude that the baiji is functionally
extinct. It is the first cetacean species to disappear in modern times. The main factors that drove the baiji (Lipotes
vexillifer) to extinction were habitat degradation and incidental catch.

RECALLING that since 1991 the IWC SC has recommended that conservation actions must be taken
immediately to eliminate bycatch of the vaquita (Phocoena sinus) in the northernmost Gulf of California,
Mexico, to prevent its extinction. Moreover, since 1997 the International Committee for the Recovery of Vaquita
(CIRVA) has recommended that bycatch be reduced to zero by banning entangling nets throughout the vaquita’s
range whilst noting the difficulties involved in trying to reconcile the vaquita’s need for immediate protection
with the needs of the affected people.

FURTHER RECALLING that IUCN has listed the vaquita as Vulnerable in 1978, Endangered in 1990 and
Critically Endangered since 1996.

NOTING that CIRVA recommended a staged reduction in fishing effort starting in January 2000, with the
expectation that gillnetting would be completely eliminated by January 2002.

FURTHER NOTING that in March 2007 the IUCN Director-General expressed, through a letter to the
President of Mexico, that organization’s grave concern about the future of the vaquita. IUCN also acknowledged
the serious social and economic implications of banning the use of entangling nets in the Northern Gulf and
indicated that conservation efforts must include programs that will help meet the needs of people in the region.

FURTHER NOTING that Mexico has followed many of the recommendations to protect and monitor the
vaquita, e.g. by closing the totoaba fishery, protecting the vaquita’s habitat through Marine Protected Areas
(Biosphere Reserve of the Upper Gulf of California and Delta of the Colorado River and the recently declared
Vaquita Refuge), and implementing an acoustic monitoring program.

FURTHER RECALLING that the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the Ministry of
Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries have been working cooperatively with several non-governmental
organizations to implement a comprehensive recovery plan with a strong socio-economic component as
recommended by CIRVA.

FURTHER CONCERNED that progress towards reducing/eliminating entanglement has been very slow
despite efforts to ban gillnets from the vaquita’s core area of occurrence and elsewhere in the Northern Gulf. The
baiji experience shows that extinction can happen rapidly and without evidence of a steady or prolonged decline,
if appropriate conservation actions are not taken promptly.

FURTHER NOTING that the vaquita’s survival is at a critical juncture. The best hope for the species is that the
international community and non-governmental organizations will support the Government of Mexico by
providing technical and financial assistance in the implementation of CIRVA’s Recovery Plan and the Biosphere

COMMENDS Mexico’s intense recent efforts to prevent the extinction of the vaquita despite the difficulties
involved in reducing bycatch to zero, and especially given the difficulties of providing alternative livelihoods to
isolated fishing communities in the Northern Gulf.

FURTHER COMMENDS the President of Mexico for the recent announcement on the Conservation Program
for Endangered Species (PROCER), which calls for the implementation of specific Species Conservation Action
Programs (PACE) for a list of selected species. The vaquita is among the top five species on this list.
IWC59\Resolution 2007-5 2 04/06/07
URGES the Members of IWC and the world community to support Mexico's efforts to prevent the extinction of
the vaquita by reducing bycatch to zero in the immediate future and assisting in providing financial resources
and technical as well as socio-economic expertise.