The porpoise is one of the world’s most endangered animals. Unfortunately, due to illegal fishing, the porpoise’s risk of extinction is rapidly increasing.
In 2016, there were just 30 porpoises in the world. Since then, the population has quickly declined, with the population dropping by 50% since then.
The population of the rare vaquita porpoise, which exclusively lives in the upper Gulf of California in Mexico, has just dropped to under 10.
Due to the widely illegal gill nets being used globally, the porpoise population will soon be nil.
Gill nets have been designed to catch the giant totoaba fish, whose swim bladder is a Chinese delicacy. The giant totoaba is worth around €4,000 which is presumably why gill net use is yet to dwindle.
The giant totoaba is around the same size as the porpoise, meaning that they both get caught in the same nets.
Due to the use of these nets resulting in many porpoise deaths, the Mexican government has banned the use of gill nets in its waters.
Such ban has been applauded by the World Wildlife Fund. A spokes person for the World Wildlife Fund said:”This is a fantastic and encouraging step forward in the path to saving the vaquita, provided the ban is fully enforced and accompanied by fishing alternatives for local communities.”
A research team at the University of Saint Andrews have been monitoring and analysing the porpoise populations. Professor Len Thomas is the director the the university’s Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling (CREEM). Professor Thomas said: “The ongoing presence of illegal gill nets despite the emergency ban continues to drive the vaquita towards extinction. Immediate management action is required if the species is to be saved.”
Despite the ban of gill nets there is still work to be done to increase the porpoise population. By encouraging breeding through environmental development and increasing their food supply by reducing over-fishing, there may still be a chance for the poropoise.