「VaquitaCPR」的關鍵是尋找剩餘鼠海豚族群的聲學監控系統。鼠海豚數量監測活動自2012年以來持續獲得世界自然基金會（WWF）的支持，並由墨西哥國家生態與氣候變化研究所（National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change）負責執行。
An international team of experts has gathered in San Felipe at the request of the Mexican Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, and has begun a unique plan to save from extinction the world’s smallest porpoise, the critically endangered vaquita.
The vaquita is found only in Mexico’s Gulf of California; it was first discovered in 1958. But between 1997 and 2016, hundreds of vaquitas died in gillnets. Their estimated population dropped from about 600 to fewer than 30 animals today.
The operation in the Gulf of California began October 12, using trained U.S. Navy dolphins to locate vaquita, whose numbers have dwindled by 90 percent in the past five years.
The project, which has been recommended by the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita, CIRVA, involves locating, rescuing and then temporarily relocating the vaquitas to an ocean sanctuary off the coast of San Felipe.
Experts from Mexico, the United States, Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada, Hong Kong and the United Kingdom are all working together on the project, known as VaquitaCPR.
The goal of VaquitaCPR is to return the vaquitas to their natural habitat once the primary threat to their survival has been eliminated.
Alex Olivera, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Mexico representative, said, “We support this last-ditch effort to save the vaquita from extinction, but it shouldn’t be used as an excuse to allow fishing to continue in its habitat.”
In an unprecedented move in April 2015, Mexico’s President Peña Nieto announced a two-year gillnet ban throughout the vaquitas’ range, compensated fishermen and related industries for their loss of income, and enhanced multi-agency enforcement of the ban led by the Mexican Navy.
In June, the ban on gillnet fishing was made permanent. The government launched an extensive survey of the vaquita population using an approach that included both visual monitoring and advanced techniques that use sound to locate the animals.
To date, the Mexican government has committed more than US$100 million to the effort to protect the vaquita and support the local fishing community.
A crucial part of VaquitaCPR is the acoustic monitoring system that will help to locate the remaining vaquitas. This monitoring has been supported since 2012 by WWF and operated by the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change of Mexico to help estimate the vaquita’s population.
WWF will also continue supporting the retrieval of lost or abandoned “ghost” nets, many of them illegal, which drift aimlessly and continue to entangle and kill vaquitas and other marine species. Both the acoustic monitoring and the net retrieval are conducted with the help and experience of local fishermen.
Jorge Rickards, CEO of WWF Mexico, said, “Although this effort faces a lot of uncertainty and is highly risky, WWF recognizes it as a necessary action to save the vaquita from extinction. WWF supports CPR with the sole aim of returning a healthy vaquita population to the wild, and as such our primary focus will continue to be ensuring a healthy, gillnet-free Upper Gulf of California where both wildlife and local communities can thrive.”
Captured vaquita will be placed in pens in the Gulf to protect them from illegal fishing activities, which have led to the species’ near extinction.
The hope is that, once protected, the vaquita will be able to breed and grow their numbers so that one day they might survive again in the wild.