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World Heritage Convention

Decision 41 COM 7B.15
Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Mexico) (N 1182ter)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/17/41.COM/7B.Add.2,
  2. Recalling Decision 40 COM 7B.75, adopted at its 40th session (Istanbul/UNESCO, 2016),
  3. Notes with appreciation the State Party’s ongoing commitment and efforts aimed at the preservation of the critically endangered vaquita and totoaba, particularly through the establishment of an unprecedented level of cooperation between different national authorities, including the Mexican Navy and regrets that the Integral Strategy for the Protection of the vaquita has not delivered the expected results and that illegal fisheries are still threatening both totoaba, as the target, and vaquita, as bycatch;
  4. Notes with utmost concern the conclusions of the 2017 joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission that the decline of the critically endangered vaquita has continued to an estimated 30 individuals, therefore putting it at risk of imminent extinction and that the main cause of its mortality is entanglement in illegal gillnets;
  5. Notes the confirmation of the mission that other attributes of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) remain in good condition and that the State Party has started the implementation of the most urgent recommendations made by the mission;
  6. Also notes the adoption of a joint Decree by the Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources and the Secretary of Agriculture that permanently bans gillnets use in the vaquita area, while prohibiting night fishing and enforcing control and monitoring of small vessels; and further notes that the State Party signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Leonardo DiCaprio and Carlos Slim Foundations seeking at working with communities to promote sustainable fishing practices and remove illegal fishing gear from the vaquita habitat;
  7. Urges the State Party to ensure fully effective implementation and enforcement of the recently established permanent ban on gillnets use, sale, manufacture and possession at sea and on land within the Vaquita Refuge and the current gillnet and longline suspension zone and in the adjacent land areas;
  8. Also urges the State Party to fully implement the programme on development of alternative gear for legal fisheries which would not cause bycatch of vaquita and other marine mammal species, sharks and turtles;
  9. Welcomes the initial efforts by the State Party aimed at strengthening cooperation with State Parties that are transit and destination countries for the illegal trade of totoaba swim bladder, and reiterates its calls to other States Parties to support the State Party of Mexico to halt this illegal trade, in particular through the implementation of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES);
  10. Requests the State Party to invite a joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring Mission to the property to assess the effectiveness of the implementation of the recently adopted measures for the protection of the threatened vaquita;
  11. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2018, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 42nd session in 2018, with a view to considering, in the case of the absence of significant progress in the implementation of the above, the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Decisions adopted during the 41st session of the World Heritage Committee (Krakow, 2017)
Context of Decision