Today on the show we’re talking with Dr. Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho who is the head of marine mammal conservation and research for the National Institute of Ecology and Climate Change in Mexico. Lorenzo shares with us so much more than a basic history of the conservation of the Vaquita – he has an inside perspective on how conservation works in Mexico.
One of Lorenzo’s greatest challenges early on in his work with the Vaquita was simply convincing both policymakers and the general public that the Vaquita actually existed and hadn’t already gone extinct! Although it may sound crazy – this species is extremely elusive and many people still to this day (read producer Sean Bogle’s blog post about this) either don’t believe that the species exists, or think that it has already gone extinct.
Lorenzo also talks at length about the relationship between the vaquita and the totoaba, explaining that the fishing villages in the Northern Gulf of California were actually founded as a direct result of the totoaba fishery. Of course this was long before the totoaba was declared endangered and it became illegal to fish for it, but Lorenzo makes it clear that this fishery has been around for a long time and has been interconnected with vaquita conservation since he got involved in the early 90s.
Lorenzo has played a crucial role in the development of our new documentary film, Souls of the Vermilion Sea, providing us with countless contacts and bringing us into the world of vaquita conservation. He has played a central role in the conservation of this species since he got involved in the early 1990s and we are eternally grateful for all the work that he has done to protect the vaquita. Enjoy this conversation with “Mr. Vaquita” Lorenzo Rojas-Bracho!
Listen to the podcast episode here:
Tags: gill net ban, gill nets, Gulf of California, Lorenzo rojas-bracho, Mexico, Mexico conservation, Mexico politics, sea of cortez, totoaba, totoaba fishery, totoaba swim bladder, Vaquita, vaquita Mexico, vaquita recovery, Vermilion Sea