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World Heritage Convention

Decision 43 COM 7B.26
Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Mexico) (N 1182ter)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.86, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the ongoing surveillance efforts by the State Party undertaken in the Upper Gulf of California, as well as measures to prevent illegal international trafficking of totoaba products, but expresses its utmost concern that despite the significant efforts, illegal fishing of totoaba has continued and even escalated in the Upper Gulf of California resulting in a threat of imminent extinction of the vaquita population, specifically recognized as part of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) and endemic to the Gulf of California, and considers therefore that illegal fishing represents an ascertained danger to the OUV and integrity of the property, in line with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  4. Decides to inscribe the Islands and Protected Areas of the Gulf of California (Mexico) on the List of World Heritage in Danger;
  5. Takes note of the reported progress made with the development of alternative fishing gear and urges the State Party to ensure that the necessary resources and inter-institutional support be available to start without further delay the transition to fishing gear that does not endanger vaquita and other non-target marine mammals, turtles and sharks, with full engagement of local communities;
  6. Taking into account the recommendations of the Comité Internacional para la Recuperación de la Vaquita (CIRVA) to avoid the imminent extinction of the vaquita, also urges the State Party to further strengthen its enforcement and surveillance activities to ensure that the area where the last remaining individuals of vaquita are concentrated remains completely gillnet-free and to ensure that illegal net retrieval programmes are continued;
  7. Reiterates its calls to the States Parties that are transit and destination countries for illegal trade in totoaba swim bladder 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);
  8. Also takes note that the study requested by the CITES Standing Committee on the current status of totoaba and vaquita, and on the illegal trade and markets, has not been undertaken yet, and also reiterates that, once available, this study will be key in mapping trafficking routes and in identifying appropriate strategies to combat illegal trade in totoaba products, which will require a concerted effort between the States Parties of Mexico, China and the United States of America;
  9. Requests the State Party to develop, in consultation with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN, a set of corrective measures, a timeframe for their implementation and a proposal for the Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger (DSOCR), for examination by the Committee at its 44th session in 2020;
  10. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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 44th session in 2020.
Decisions adopted during the 43rd session of the World Heritage Committee (Baku, 2019)
Context of Decision