Year of inscription on the World Heritage List 2005
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger N/A
Previous Committee Decisions see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1182/documents/
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1182/assistance/
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
April 2017: joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Illustrative material see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1182/
Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2017
On 1 March 2017, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property. A joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission visited the property from 9 to 15 April 2017. Both reports are available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1182/documents/. Furthermore, on 23 May 2017, additional information was provided by the State Party regarding scientific literature and reports on national programmes conducted from 2007 to 2016 at the property.
The State Party provides a comprehensive overview of various conservation and research programmes in different components of the property. With regards to the situation with the vaquita and totoaba, the State Party reports the following:
During its visit, the mission received confirmation that the temporary ban on gillnet use has been extended until 31 May 2017.
Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN
The measures undertaken by the State Party to prevent the extinction of the critically endangered vaquita should be noted with appreciation, including the highest commitment of the various institutions, particularly the National Commission of Natural Protected Areas (CONANP), to the conservation of the property. The unprecedented cooperation between different institutions, including the Mexican Navy, aimed at coordination of efforts in combatting illegal fishing should be welcomed. However, despite the commendable efforts undertaken by the State Party, the extinction of the vaquita is imminent. On the one hand, it needs to be underlined that combatting illegal trafficking of totoaba swim bladder requires international cooperation between all countries of the source-transit-destination chain, including efforts to reduce the demand in China for this illegally traded product. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee reiterate its call to the States Parties, which are transit and destination countries for this illegal trade, to continue and increase their cooperation with the State Party of Mexico in addressing the issue of illegal trade in totoaba swim bladders, in particular through the implementation of the recommendations made by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). On the other hand, a number of additional measures need to be urgently undertaken by the State Party, including establishment of a permanent ban on the use, sale, manufacture and possession of gillnets within the Vaquita Refuge and the current Gillnet and Longline Suspension Zone where a temporary ban has been extended until 31 May 2017 and development of alternative gear for legal fisheries which would not cause bycatch of vaquita, other marine mammal species, sharks or turtles. While efforts to combat illegal fishing have been unprecedented in their scale and institutional involvement and cooperation, it should be noted that the mission concluded that illegal fishing is an ongoing problem. Therefore, the effectiveness of the ban can only be guaranteed if its enforcement continues and is strengthened further, including by strict application of penalties and prosecutions in cases where illegal activities have been confirmed.
The mission considers that the property remains in an overall good state of conservation; however, it concluded that the risk of imminent extinction of the vaquita, which is specifically recognized as part of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and endemic to the Gulf of California, and whose numbers declined from approximately 300 at the time of the inscription of the property to 59 in 2015, and further to an estimation of 30 individuals in 2016 made by the Comité Internacional para la Recuperación de la Vaquita (CIRVA), represents a clear ascertained danger to the OUV of the property in line with Paragraph 180 c) i) of the Operational Guidelines. The mission further concluded that entanglement in gillnets is the main cause of vaquita mortality and that the illegal trade in totoaba swim bladder is the central driver of the problem. Furthermore, although exact estimates of the population of the totoaba are not available, there is concern that the increased pressure from targeted fishing of this species is not sustainable. Therefore it is recommended that the Committee inscribe the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger and request the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, a set of corrective measures and a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR) focused on the measures needed to address the issue of illegal fishing and to enable shifting of legal fisheries to be regulated and sustainable and based on the use of fishing gear that does not cause bycatch of marine mammals, sharks and turtles in order to ensure the long-term protection of the OUV of the property.
Decision Adopted: 41 COM 7B.15
The World Heritage Committee,