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Bycatch May be Risking Highly Endangered Marine Animals Around the World

First Posted: Dec 14, 2015 07:51 PM EST

Bycatch may be threatening marine animals around the world. Gillnetting can ensnare hundreds of thousands of small cetaceans of each year, and now researchers have found that this may be threatening species with extinction.

In fact, Mexican authorities have instituted an emergency two-year ban on gillnetting to help save the critically endangered vaquita, which is now the rarest marine mammal species on the planet. Fewer than 100 of these animals remain.

"This is the first large-scale gillnet ban to save a species from extinction, and includes provisions for the development of alternative fishing gear to replace gillnets," said Barbara Taylor, chair of the Society's Conservation Committee, in a news release. "We have great hope that this will be the model that shows the world it is truly possible to bring a species back from the brink of extinction."

The new efforts could actually save this species. With that said, it will remain to be seen whether this sort of sustainable fishing will allow the species to recover over time. However, the vaquita may prove that this could be possible.

The new effort was presented at the Society of Marine Mammalogy's 21st biennial conference in San Francisco.

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