Mexico to Dedicate Northern Gulf of California as Biosphere Reserve
ae446 at Freenet.carleton.ca
Tue Jun 8 05:00:50 EST 1993
Here is a press release from Defenders of Wildlife.
Mexico to Dedicate Northern Gulf of California as Biosphere
Reserve June 10, to Protect Porpoise
To: National Desk, Environment Writer
Contact: Joan Moody, 202-659-9510 or Chris Croft, 310-613-2049,
both of Defenders of Wildlife
WASHINGTON, June 7 -- Defenders of Wildlife
President Rodger Schlickeisen will travel to Puerto Penasco,
Sonora, Mexico, with Mexican President Carlos Salinas de Gortari on
Thursday, June 10 to support the designation of the Northern Gulf
of California as a Mexican Biosphere Reserve.
Schlickeisen will announce enthusiastic support for the Mexican
leader's decree, to be issued on that day, as "an important first
step not only to protect a unique marine habitat, but also to
provide immediate and dramatic protection for the world's most
endangered marine mammal -- the vaquita or Gulf of California
harbor porpoise -- as well as for the totoaba, an endangered fish."
The vaquita which Defenders of Wildlife has worked to protect
since 1978, is caught in gillnets set to catch totoabas, which have
been sold in U.S. restaurants and fish markets despite their
To warn U.S. and Mexican consumers not to buy totoaba, Defenders
of Wildlife and the Mexican group Pronatura are circulating radio
and T.V. public service announcements featuring actor
Edward J. Olmos of "Miami Vice" fame. At the announcement on the
Northern Gulf coast, Schlickeisen will thank the Mexican president
for the support of SEDESOL, his government's environmental agency,
in distributing the PSA. The Defenders-produced PSA includes the
only known film of live vaquitas, a mother and calf. Defenders
obtained the footage in April 1992 when the organization's Marine
Wildlife Coordinator Christopher Croft and journalist Vicki Monks
went 27 miles out into the Gulf in search of vaquitas in a small
Zodiak. They also conducted onshore investigations in the Northern
Gulf region. The Defenders' investigative team documented continued
illegal fishing and were repeatedly told by fishermen about U.S.
companies that had been smuggling tatoaba fillets across the
Because totoaba can be easily mislabeled "sea bass" in fillet
form, on May 28, 1992, Defenders petitioned the Secretary of the
Treasury to require that any fish products imported from the
Northern Gulf be in whole form only, rather than fillets. That
request is pending.
Croft, a former tunaboat observer for the National Marine
Fisheries Service who originated the idea of "dolphin-safe"
labeling of tuna, says that the new designation "will not in and of
itself save the vaquita, but it is an important expression of
goodwill. We hope that it will be followed up with the directives
or legislation necessary to preserve the Gulf's land and water
Defenders of Wildlife President Schlickeisen notes the decree's
compatibility with the mandate of the Conventon on Nature
Protection and Wildlife Preservation in the Western Hemisphere.
The nonprofit organization has suggested Mexico take two actions
under the convention: first, list both the vaquita and totoaba and
second, designate the biosphere reserve as a protected area
Defenders of Wildlife, a leading nonprofit U.S. conservation
organization with more than 80,000 members, is known as the
nation's most progressive advocate for wildlife. Defenders of
Wildife uses education, litigation, research, legislation, and
advocacy, of public policies to defend wildlife and wildlife
habitats and to promote conservation of wild animals and plants in
their natural communities. Renowned for leadership on endangered
species issues, Defenders advocates new approaches to wildlife
conservation that will help species get ahead of the extinction
curve. Defenders has been a leader in promoting conservation of
biodiversity since the 1980s.
Editors: Exclusive footage of world's most endangered marine
mammal -- vaquita -- available on 3/4 inch and 1 inch tapes.
Copies of the only known footage of live vaquitas are available to
news organizations, with permission given upon request for one-time
usage in news broadcasts about this event, with credit to Defenders
of Wildlife. Dr. Schlickeisen will be available for interviews
this week in Washington; Marine Wildlife Coordinator Chris Croft
will be available by mobile phone and will be in San Diego, Phoenix
and Tucson before the event.
Nigel Allen, Toronto, Ontario, Canada ae446 at freenet.carleton.ca
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