The International Whaling Commission (IWC) has taken up the cause of some of the world’s most critically endangered marine mammals by calling on governments to keep fishing nets out of their waters to prevent entanglement deaths.
Mexico’s vaquita porpoise and the Maui’s dolphin of New Zealand were a focus of discussions between countries gathered in Panama City for the commission’s annual meeting. Governments urged Mexico and New Zealand to take all possible measures immediately to save the animals from extinction.
“It’s time for diplomatic niceties and step-wise strategies to take a back seat to immediate, concrete action with no compromise,” said Michael Stachowitsch, delegate of Austria to the IWC.
Scientists say that unless immediate action is taken the vaquita population could soon be extinct. The only known loss of a mammal species from human causes was the Chinese baiji, or Yangtze river dolphin, which was declared functionally extinct by the IWC in 2006. Governments cautioned that this worst case scenario is near for vaquita.