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US federal judge orders fishing embargo against Mexico to protect vaquita

New York, USA — Federal judge, Gary S. Katzmann based in New York, ordered the US government to immediately apply the fishing embargo against Mexico, given the inability to stop the death of the vaquita in the Upper Gulf of California.

This was after the Donald Trump administration requested more time to execute the measure, which directly impacts the shrimp, mako, reef and sierra fisheries caught with gill nets in the habitat of the world’s most endangered marine mammal.

In his arguments, the justice minister of the United States International Court of Commerce said that there are approximately 15 live vaquitas left adding that nearly half drown in the fishing nets every year. He says that in the refuge area of Mexico, fishing with gill nets has never been prohibited, which is used by fishermen to capture of Totoaba for its high value in China’s black market.

The embargo ordered by the Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service, Treasury Department and Department of National Security comes after a lawsuit filed in March by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Animal Protection Institute and the Center for Biological Diversity, where the Judicial Branch is asked to take forceful actions against Mexico under the protection of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of the United States, which protects not only national species, but also whales, dolphins and porpoises from other countries.

The US government had asked for more time to enforce the embargo on the grounds that it needed to create an import certificate for fishery products from the Upper Gulf of California, to accept those caught with fishing gear other than gill nets.

On July 26, the same federal judge agreed to petition for preliminary injunction of civil society organizations to act in defense of the vaquita marina and prevent it from dying still drowned in fishing nets.