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New Technology and Market Incentives in the Conservation of the Vaquita (Phocoena sinus)

Abstract

The Gulf of California harbor porpoise or “vaquita” is the most endangered cetacean in the world. Threatened with extinction by the use of gillnets, the development of a new lightweight trawl could prove to be the most promising tool for the vaquita’s conservation. The complexity of socio-economic factors in the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Biosphere Reserve has tied fishing communities and vaquita conservation together in an antagonistic relationship. The application of market incentives provides a unique opportunity for collaboration and mutual gain. This paper explores the use of ecolabels as tools for conservation and envisions the development of a Vaquita-Safe ecolabel. Caveats, next steps, and project development are discussed.

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