Submission

Vaquita Porpoise

Submission ID: SEM-21-002
Party concerned: Mexico
Date filed: August 11, 2021
Submission Status: Open

Latest Update: April 1, 2022

The Secretariat determined that the submission warrants the preparation of a factual record under Article 24.28(1) and so informed the Council and the Environment Committee.

Summary of the matter addressed in the submission:

The Submitters assert that “the Mexican government is failing to effectively enforce several environmental laws and as a result has caused the near-extinction of the vaquita porpoise. Only approximately 10 vaquita remain.” The Submitters assert that the vaquita population has been declining precipitously for decades due to bycatch in gillnets set to catch shrimp and fish, including totoaba, a large, endangered fish that is threatened by illegal fishing for international markets.

The vaquita porpoise (Phocoena sinus) is the world’s smallest cetacean and the most endangered marine mammal. The vaquita has the smallest range of any whale, dolphin, or porpoise, and only lives in a small 1,500 square-mile area in Mexico’s Upper Gulf of California, near the town of San Felipe. The totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi) is a large, schooling marine fish whose habitat partially overlaps with the vaquita. According to the Submitters, Mexico is not effectively enforcing the General Wildlife Law (Ley General de Vida Silvestre) and federal regulations governing fishing within the vaquita’s habitat, including regulations that prohibit the use of gillnets and the capture of totoaba.

Summary of the response provided by the Party:

In its response, Mexico (the Party) states that the Secretariat should not have requested a response from the Party because the submission does not demonstrate harm to the Submitters, does not include information on private remedies available under Mexico’s law, and is based exclusively on media reports. The Party further contends that its undertakings under the USMCA became binding only “from its entry into force, i.e., as of 1 July 2020.”

Mexico reports on measures taken in relation to the enforcement of Article 55 of the General Wildlife Act (Ley General de Vida Silvestre—LGVS) and Article 56 of the LGVS Regulations, as well as measures to ensure the implementation of the “2020 Gillnets Order,” including measures implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (Secretaría de Agricultura y Desarrollo Rural—Sader), the Ministry of the Navy (Secretaría de Marina), and the Federal Attorney for Environmental Protection (Procuraduría Federal de Protección al Ambiente—Profepa). The Party also reports on activities aimed at enforcing fishing and trade bans, the implementation of the government’s plan on implementation triggers, and other relevant measures being implemented by Mexico.

Submitter(s):

Center for Biological Diversity, Animal Welfare Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Investigation Agency

Submission Timeline

August 11, 2021

The Secretariat began reviewing the submission under Articles 24.27(2) and (3).

Submission - Submission authored by Submitter(s) on 11/08/2021

Acknowledgement - Communication to Submitter(s) authored by Secretariat on 12/08/2021

August 13, 2021

The Secretariat requested the Submitter(s) to correct minor errors of form.

August 16, 2021

The Submitters corrected the minor errors of form.

September 2, 2021

The Secretariat requested the Submitter(s) to correct minor errors of form.

September 3, 2021

The Submitters corrected the minor errors of form.

September 8, 2021

The Secretariat determined that the submission met the criteria of Article 24.27(2), and requested a response from the concerned government Party in accordance with Article 24.27(3).

Determination - Secretariat Determination under Article 24.27(2) and Article 24.27(3) of the CUSMA/USMCA authored by Secretariat on 08/09/2021

January 31, 2022

Under Article 24.27(4), the Secretariat received a response from the concerned government Party and began considering whether to recommend a factual record under Article 24.28(1).

Party Response - Response from the Party under Article 24.27(4) of the CUSMA/USMCA authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Acknowledgement - Other document authored by Secretariat on 01/02/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Mexico on 31/01/2022

April 1, 2022

The Secretariat determined that the submission warrants the preparation of a factual record under Article 24.28(1) and so informed the Council and the Environment Committee.

Recommendation - Secretariat Notification to Council under Article 24.28(1) of the CUSMA/USMCA authored by Secretariat on 01/04/2022

Annex - Other document authored by Secretariat on 01/04/2022