Sea Shepherd Conservation Society will conduct a press conference Tuesday, April 5, 3:00 pm Central Mexico Time, 5:00 pm EST with updates about Operation Milagro, our ongoing campaign to prevent the extinction of the world’s most endangered marine mammal – the vaquita porpoise. Sign up HERE to attend this live briefing.
Operation Milagro is a partnership between six agencies of the Mexican government and led by the Navy of Mexico and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Since 2015, Sea Shepherd has worked with Mexican authorities and leading researchers to protect the vaquita by preventing and removing illegal fishing gear inside the Vaquita Refuge – a UNESCO-recognized and federally protected area in which gillnet fishing is banned. The vaquita is an endemic species that exists only in a small region of Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California. Scientists estimate that fewer than 20 vaquitas remain. Entanglement in fishing gear is the greatest documented threat to the survival of the species.
Since 2015, Sea Shepherd’s fleet has removed over 1,000 pieces of illegal fishing gear from the refuge to date, giving the vaquita a fighting chance at survival as well as helping the threatened totoaba. Beginning in November 2021, Sea Shepherd and the Mexican Navy started patrolling the Zero Tolerance Area of the Vaquita Refuge, a high priority region for scientists and conservationists where the remaining vaquita population is believed to be located.
Between October and November of 2021, the Sea Shepherd vessel MV Sharpie and the Museo de la Ballena’s MV Narval conducted a scientific survey to identify the presence of vaquitas in the Zero Tolerance Area. The survey was carried out by a team of leading vaquita researchers. The scientists made eight vaquita sightings over five days of the expedition.
In early January 2022, Sea Shepherd and the Mexican Navy began a new reporting and response protocol resulting in a substantial reduction in the number of fishing vessels in the Zero Tolerance Area and the length of time nets remain in the water.
In this Press Conference, Sea Shepherd will update the media on the campaign, the partnership with the Navy of Mexico, and the next steps for saving the world’s rarest cetacean.