Leonardo DiCaprio is continuing his efforts to save the vaquita, the critically endangered porpoise native to the Gulf of Mexico, and he’s enlisted some powerful allies: Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and the country’s richest person, billionaire Carlos Slim.
As Associated Press reports, Nieto, Slim and DiCaprio have banded together by signing an agreement to save the critically endangered sea mammal, which is teetering on the brink of extinction in large part from unauthorized gillnet fishing to catch totoaba (“a fish whose swim bladder is a prized delicacy in China”) as the illegal gillnets ensnare vaquitas and cause them to die.
“Mexico understands its responsibility as one of the countries with greatest biodiversity,” said Pena Nieto. “That is why we have implemented an historic effort to avoid the extinction of a unique species in the world and also to protect important ecosystems.”
The bladders can be worth thousands to the illegal fishermen who catch them, which has made efforts to regulate totoaba fishing largely ineffective, and authorities are planning to capture the last few dozen remaining vaquitas and enclose them in a protected marine sanctuary in hopes of bolstering the vaquita population.
The agreement — which will be backed by both the Carlos Slim Foundation and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation — commits to fund local development and fishing options that don’t involve gillnets as a way to counter any negative economic effects for the fishermen who rely on income from catching totoaba.
“This action is a critical step towards ensuring that the Gulf of California continues to be both vibrant and productive, especially for species like the critically endangered vaquita,” DiCaprio said.
DiCaprio shared the news of the agreement in a series of tweets:
Meanwhile, DiCaprio is also receiving some assistance from the Vancouver Aquarium; check out this video detailing the aquarium’s efforts to prevent the vaquita from dying out: