As never before, the illegal fishing of Totoaba overflowed in the habitat of the endangered vaquita marina

The simultaneous action of the pangas was recorded with drones in front of the community of San Felipe, Baja California, by the Sea Shepherd organization, which patrols the region since 2015

The emptiness of authority in the Upper Gulf of California made a crisis last Sunday when, in broad daylight, 80 smaller vessels stormed the vaquita’s refuge zone, to illegally capture at least 500 copies of Totoaba fish.

The simultaneous action of the pangas was recorded with drones in front of the community of San Felipe, Baja California, by the Sea Shepherd organization, which patrols the region since 2015.

With total impunity, vessels with up to seven poachers each caught the totoabas, opened them with a knife and took their swim bladder or buche, and then threw their bodies into the sea.

In the videos, which are impressive and show that the illegal capture of Totoaba is overwhelmed, it can be seen that the boats use a new method known as “Pesier de Encierro”, which consists of surrounding the specimens forming a fence with the networks of gill, so they have no escape.

According to Sea Shepherd, the Profepa inspectors and the elements of the Secretariat of the Navy (Semar), with just two speedboats, were overwhelmed by a large number of pangas and fishermen in the area, where the last marine vaquitas live, in critical danger of extinction. 

Resultado de imagen para vaquita marina
Vaquita Marina

During the actions two firearm detonations were heard, so that the conservation organization’s ship was kept at a safe distance, since four days earlier, on December 4, one of its drones suffered damage from firing, while documenting illegal fishing activities.

The Sea Shepherd crew stated that they had never observed such a shameless and impunity poaching in the “Zero Tolerance Area”, identified by scientists as the most important habitat for the sea vaquita, drowning in the prohibited nets of fishing.

In a recording obtained by Excélsior, made in one of the pangas by the poachers themselves, we hear how they gloat over the massive capture they made of Totoaba.

On board the boat, at least 15 buckets are seen piled up on a shore and a kilometer net with totoabas enmalladas.

Just on September 30, the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Profepa) promised that 600 federal elements would be sent to bring order to the Upper Gulf of California, including soldiers, sailors, national guards and inspectors. 

Today the reality is different, which can be confirmed in a Sunday night video, where poachers and inhabitants of San Felipe face with luxury the elements of the Gendarmerie, who threaten to burn their trucks, in case of who want to check their load, in a community without law.

Source: excelsior

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