Close up image of a stack of newspapers

Last chance for the vaquita: World’s most endangered marine mammal gets a CITES lifeline

GENEVA: The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) welcomes a declaration made at CITES today to deliver an urgent action plan to save the vaquita porpoise from extinction.

Late this afternoon at the 69th meeting of the Standing Committee (SC69) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Mexico announced its support of the recommendation made in an intervention by EIA to set up a high-level diplomatic mission to establish and adopt specific time-bound actions to be taken by Mexico, China and the USA by February 2018.

In its statement made just before the end of the meeting, Mexico invited the CITES Secretary-General to join the mission. The invitation was accepted.

Fewer than 30 vaquita are thought to remain in the wild as the species continues to die in illegal gillnets set to capture totoaba fish whose dried swim bladders are highly sought-after in China.

Nine NGOs supported the intervention, which highlighted the need for the three Parties to substantially increase coordinated intelligence-led enforcement actions to end the illegal trade in totoaba.

“While an uphill battle remains to save the species, today’s decision provides a much-needed ray of hope for the vaquita, strengthening previous decisions of CITES which require the three Parties to make serious progress towards ending the illegal totoaba trade,” said Clare Perry, Ocean Campaign Leader at EIA.

“We welcome Mexico’s support of our intervention and sincerely hope that this represents a turn in the tide, with the country taking seriously its responsibility to fully protect the last remaining handful of vaquita.”


  • Interviews are available on request; please contact Clare Perry via clareperry[at]



  1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) investigates and campaigns against environmental crime and abuses.
  1. The NGO intervention was supported by Animal Welfare Institute, Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Environmental Investigation Agency, International Fund for Animal Welfare, Natural Resources Defense Council, Species Survival Network, Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF.
  1. Read and download the EIA report Facing Extinction: Survival of the Vaquita Depends on Eliminating the Illegal Trade in Totoaba at



Environmental Investigation Agency
62-63 Upper Street
London N1 0NY
Tel: +44 207 354 7960