Chinese demand for 'liquid cocaine' fish pushes porpoise to brink of extinction
The vaquita is a rare species of porpoise. The cetaceans only natural habitat is in the Gulf of California and soon it may not live there at all.
As It Happens host Carol Off spoke with Andrea Crosta. He is the executive director and co-founder of Elephant Action League — a conservation group that conducted the investigation. Here is part of their conversation.
Carol Off: Mr. Crosta, can you first of all describe the vaquita porpoise for us?
CO: So this is like drugs.
AC: Yes, even more, and that's why it's called liquid cocaine. One of the ways they call this maw is liquid cocaine.
CO: So, in addition to what's happening to totoaba, there's these vaquita porpoises. You said that there were only 28 of them left. How close to complete extinction are these animals?
AC: Extremely, I would say one to two years. Maybe even months, I don't know.
CO: This fishing where these porpoises and fish are being caught is in the Gulf of California. Is the Mexican government doing anything to stop the pirating?
AC: Not enough actually. These nets, the gill nets, are illegal. So, in theory, they have all the possible tools to crackdown on this illegal fishing with local fishermen. But local fishermen are very powerful. There are multiple sources saying that even the drug cartels in the area are involved.
The main thing is along the entire supply chain — so China, U.S., and Mexico — they have to get serious in enforcing the law. If they don't get to that point than the vaquita is gone. There's no hope for the species.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For more on this story, please listen to our full interview with Andrea Crosta.