A Victory for the Vaquita that is Hopefully Not Too Late

The Court of International Trade has issued an order lifting an injunction aimed at protecting the vaquita from illegal fishing by banning the importation of certain fisheries products from Mexico. The vaquita is a critically endangered porpoise that is endemic to the Gulf of California.



The order is the result of a favorable settlement between the government and several environmental organizations. That is a good thing. For background on this case, read this post.

The Court approved the settlement stating that

the Government has changed course, announcing an embargo that embraces the one sought by Plaintiffs in their complaint and preliminarily issued by the court; indeed, it expands its reach. In short, Plaintiffs have achieved the outcome they sought before the court in the suit they filed. Presented for the court’s review is the settlement of the instant litigation as set forth in the Stipulation and Proposed Order of Voluntary Dismissal Under CIT Rule 41(a)(2), Apr. 10, 2020, ECF No. 112 (“Stipulation and Proposed Order”), filed by the parties.

There is not a lot to say, but I will provide this passage from CIT Judge Katzmann:

The road to this day has been a tortuous one. The vaquita remains an endangered species; every death brings it perilously close to disappearing from the planet forever. The illegal trade in the totoaba, caught in gillnets which catch and strangle the vaquita, is a matter not before this court -- but the need for vigorous international enforcement against its continuing threat is a  compelling one. On this Earth Day, as we ponder the imperatives of biodiversity and the environment, we would do well to heed the sobering words of Rachel Carson: “So delicately enterwoven are the relationships that when we disturb one thread of the community fabric we alter it all -- perhaps almost imperceptibly, perhaps so drastically that destruction follows.” The panda of the sea, the little cow, cannot be replaced.
July 18 is (apparently) International Save the Vaquita Day. Make a contribution to a conservation organization. I am not vouching for any particular organization, but the Porpoise Conservation Society appears focused on saving the vaquita. Check them out. The plaintiff organizations in this case can also use your support. Visit the NRDC, Center for Biological Diversity, and Animal Welfare Institute to donate.

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