NRDC Sues to Protect Vaquita Porpoise

The federal government has been in clear violation of the Marine Mammal Protection Act by refusing to act.

Paula Olson/NOAA

With fewer than 30 remaining in the wild, the vaquita is in dire need of help. Today, NRDC and conservation groups took action by suing the Trump administration for failing to ban seafood imports caught with gillnets that entangle and drown the small porpoise.

NRDC, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Animal Welfare Institute are asking for court intervention and an immediate ban on Mexican seafood imports from the upper Gulf of California, where fishermen catching shrimp and other seafood have caused a 95 percent population decline in the past 20 years.

Mexico has repeatedly ignored warnings and failed to permanently ban the harmful fishing practices. The Marine Mammal Protection Act requires the U.S. government to ban seafood imports that harm marine mammals at a rate above U.S. standards. The vaquita porpoise certainly qualifies.

“This is the dolphin-tuna fish story all over again, only the situation is even more dire. If we don’t put immediate pressure on Mexico to manage its Baja fisheries in a sustainable way, we will lose this porpoise forever,” said Giulia Good Stefani, staff attorney with NRDC. “This lawsuit might be the vaquita’s last chance.”

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