Saving the vaquita one bite at a time: The missing role of the shrimp consumer in vaquita conservation
The vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is the world's smallest cetacean and most endangered marine mammal. The species is under threat from illegal fishing activities that take place in the upper Gulf of California (UGC). Artisanal use of gillnets to catch shrimp and poach the endangered totoaba are the primary drivers of vaquita population declines due to bycatch. About 80% of shrimp caught in the UGC is sold to the United States, meaning Americans who consume shrimp may have a direct connection to the plight of the critically endangered vaquita. However, this issue as part of the human dimensions of vaquita conservation has been largely unstudied. Additionally, the majority of Americans are unfamiliar with the vaquita which hinders conservation efforts. This article calls for further research into the human dimensions of vaquita conservation, increased collaboration with fishing communities in the UGC, and connecting seafood sellers and consumers with the vaquita crisis.
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