The vaquita is the world’s tiniest cetacean, and its survival is entirely dependent on Mexico. Mexico Has Been Accused By The United States
Despite the fact that Mexico has taken measures against illegal fishing in the Upper Gulf of California for a few years to prevent the trafficking of protected species such as the totoaba and to protect the vaquita marina, a species in critical danger of extinction, the US government has accused Mexico of violating the Free Trade Agreement’s ecological statutes (T-MEC).
And it is for this reason that Katherine Tai’s Office of the Trade Representative (USTR) announced on Thursday that it will request consultations with the Mexican government to ensure that it complies with environmental commitments in light of the concern generated by the dark overview of these species.
The US trade representative emphasized that her office will continue to work closely with Mexico to ensure that fishing laws in the vaquita marina’s habitat are strengthened.
It’s worth noting that this is the first time a government has used the T-environmental MEC’s provisions, which went into effect in July 2020 under Donald Trump’s presidency.
If the parties fail to resolve the matter under Articles 24.29 (Environmental Consultations), 24.30 (High-Level Representative Consultations), and 24.31 (Ministerial Consultations) within 30 days of receiving the request, the country or party that requested to open the space for analysis and observation may request a meeting of the Commission of Good Offices, Conciliation, and Mediation.
If a solution is not found, a panel to set trade sanctions may be convened at a later date.
In the Sea of Cortez, in Baja California, scientists return a vaquita marina to the sea. (Photo courtesy of Reuters)
For her part, Sarah Uhlemann, head of the Center for Biological Diversity’s international program, said that by doing so, the US is taking a significant step toward saving the species from extinction.
“In Mexican waters, illegal fishing is out of control, and the vaquita pays the heaviest price. We are pleased that the US government is holding Mexico accountable for breaking its environmental commitments and endangering the species’ existence.”
While J Schubert, a wildlife biologist at the Institute of Animal Welfare, pointed out that Mexico has consistently failed to keep its promises to combat illegal fishing of Totoaba, causing the number of vaquitas to plummet to 7 or 8 copies, as lawlessness and corruption thrive in the Upper Gulf of California for the past 25 years.
According to the US there are less than 10 copies of the vaquita marina.
The vaquita is the smallest cetacean in the world and its survival depends 100% on Mexico, because it is not found anywhere else on the planet.
Given the US government’s concerns, Mexico’s Ministry of Economy (SE) said hours later that it will submit “efforts and actions” taken to safeguard the vaquita and other species in a statement.
Under Chapter 24 of the T-MEC, the agency stated that it “had already received a request for discussions” from President Joe Biden’s administration.
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