Episode Summary:

Screen Shot 2016-06-21 at 11.17.26 PMToday’s episode of the podcast will feature an interview with one of the most unlikely guests we’ve had on the show thus far.  Pat Butler is a real estate developer who has been living in San Felipe, MX for over 20 years.  He is the owner of El Dorado Ranch, one of the largest ex-pat communities in the area.

I decided to feature this interview with Pat that we recorded in San Felipe on a shoot for our documentary about the vaquita, Souls of the Vermilion Sea, because Pat has an interesting idea.  He wants to legalize the trade in totoaba swim bladders and bring back the once active sport fishery for totoaba.

This idea would be considered highly controversial in most environmentalist circles, but to many of the fisherman in the region it is the natural solution to the crisis faced by the vaquita and the San Felipe community.  Fisherman still remember the days when sport fishing for totoaba was legal, and because this style of line fishing doesn’t harm the vaquita, the totoaba and their swim bladders could be harvested without harming this critically endangered porpoise.

The real question is this: would the legalization of the totoaba swim bladder trade create a spike in demand in China that could lead to more uncontrolled illegal fishing in Mexico?  In 2008 ivory stockpiles from the countries of Botswana, South Africa, Namibia and Zimbabwe were sold on a “one-off” basis to China and Japan.  This sale was supported by the World Wildlife Fund and other conservation groups, based on the idea that this could depress the value of ivory on the world market.  Since 2008 however the price of ivory in China has actually increased dramatically.  Was the 2008 sale a trigger for the dramatic intensification of the illegal ivory trade that we’ve seen in the years since?

Strong arguments have been made on both sides of this issue.  The real question to ask in the context of today’s interview with Pat is this: could this be done in a responsible way that avoids the mistakes of the past?  Could a program like this play an role in saving the vaquita?

Listen in to our interview with Pat and decide for yourself!

 

Links:

Souls of the Vermilion Sea website

El Dorado Ranch – Pat’s development in San Felipe, MX

Nat Geo article: “Will Keeping the Rhino Horn Trade Illegal Kill More Rhinos?”

 

Listen to the podcast interview here:






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