Actions taken by Government of Mexico are insufficient to save the vaquita


On 6-10 November the CITES Standing Committee will consider Mexico’s August 2023 Progress and Results Report on its Compliance Action Plan to Prevent Fishing for and Illegal Trade in Totoaba, their Parts and/or Derivatives, to Protect the Vaquita (No. 2023/112 Mexico Compliance Action Plan, CAP). The CITES Secretariat gave high marks to Mexico for its implementation of many of the actions described in the CAP. However, a detailed analysis by CSG members Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho and Barbara Taylor found that the CAP will mislead CITES Standing Committee members (and others) about the extent and effectiveness of conservation actions.


The main concerns are:

  • gillnets continue to be used, wantonly and extensively, for catching fish and shrimp except within the (very small) Zero Tolerance Area (“ZTA”);
  • no significant progress has been made toward transitioning communities to alternative fishing gear;
  • focusing compliance and enforcement effort solely on the ZTA will not result in vaquita recovery or in sustainable management of totoaba; and
  • monitoring of vaquitas (acoustically and visually) continues to be impeded by fishing activity.


The Cetacean Specialist Group has written a letter to the CITES Secretariat expressing concern and supporting the analysis by Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho and Barbara Taylor of Mexico’s implementation of its Compliance Action Plan. The letter and analysis are available here.