The UNESCO World Heritage Centre is receiving a high number of e-mails expressing great concern for the possible extinction, in the near future, of the vaquita, a critically endangered porpoise endemic to the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Mexico).Inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List in 2005, the property of the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 2019 in light of the critical situation of the vaquita, which is an important attribute of the Outstanding Universal Value of this site.
The Director of the World Heritage Centre, Dr Mechtild Rössler, underlines that UNESCO and the World Heritage Committee share the concerns regarding the threats to the vaquita and its possible extinction if no decisive action is undertaken. The inscription of the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California on the List of World Heritage in Danger has the objective to mobilize the State Party of Mexico, the international community and all other relevant stakeholders to urgently address the causes of the decline, in particular illegal fishing practices.
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre, in close collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), is working with the Mexican authorities and relevant Mexican institutions towards the adoption and implementation of the necessary measures to ensure the survival of the vaquita and address the conservation challenges related to its decline.
The UNESCO World Heritage Centre is currently also providing financial support through its Rapid Response Facility for the retrieval of ghost nets in the vaquita sanctuary to avoid further vaquita deaths by entanglement (see http://whc.unesco.org/en/news/2304).
To monitor the progress accomplished by the State Party of Mexico in this respect, the State of Conservation of the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California will be reviewed during the extended 44th session of the World Heritage Committee (Fuzhou/online 16-31 July 2021).