Wednesday, September 21, 2016

21/09/2016: Only around 60 vaquitas left, totaba swim bladder trade threatens species

In a recent article written by Kata Karáth on New Scientist, it was reported that there are now only around 60 vaquitas left, and it is now up to China whether the world’s smallest porpoise will escape extinction.

That’s according to a report by campaign organisation the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA).

The critically endangered porpoise is only found in the Gulf of California, where it often gets tangled in gill nets targeting the totoaba, a similarly sized fish that is also endangered and whose fishing and international trade are banned.
Image: Lauren Packard

The totoaba’s swim bladders, known as “aquatic cocaine”, are sought for their putative medical effects, and can fetch tens of thousands of dollars in China. This trade still thrives there, despite a fall in prices and the ban, according to an investigation by the EIA.

“The totoaba trade is just not high priority for the Chinese authorities,” says Clare Perry, head of the agency’s Oceans Campaign.

“Open illegal trade in Chinese markets clearly shows the lack of enforcement.”

EIA has monitored the market, including online trading, since April 2015, and conducted undercover investigations in Hong Kong and other parts of southern China.

Posing as investors, the agency’s investigators identified the coastal town of Shantou, in Guangdong province, as the centre of the trade.

Read more HERE.

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