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Storied Seafood Documents Mexican Fishermen Working to Save the Vaquita

Fishermen fixing a Turtle Excluder Device

Carlos “Charlie” Samudio and his colleague Jose Luis Albanez fix a Turtle Excluder Device (TED) connected to the new lightweight trawl that does not endanger vaquitas. TEDs protect turtles from getting accidentally entangled in the fishing gear. They have been largely successful when used correctly in fisheries, as is required of U.S. and Mexican shrimp trawlers. Credit: Alex Espinosa

September 29, 2016

The Aquarium’s Seafood for the Future (SFF) program has launched a new series called Storied Seafood with a photography exhibit and website that tell the story of Mexican fishermen and their efforts to save the vaquita in the northern Gulf of California.

The vaquita, Mexico’s endemic porpoise, is on the verge of extinction due to accidental entanglement in gillnets. Fishermen working in this area can have the greatest, most immediate impact on the vaquita’s survival by using alternative fishing gear that does not harm vaquitas. The photography exhibit (on view in the Aquarium’s Great Hall through December 2016) and the Storied Seafood website feature the fishermen of the Upper Gulf of California who are developing and testing these new types of fishing gear. The website includes profiles of and interviews with the fishermen, a timeline of vaquita conservation efforts, background information on the vaquita and its population decline, and an image gallery. The profiles and interviews are available in both English and Spanish language versions.

Storied Seafood: Vaquita Conservation was developed by SFF in collaboration with NOAA Fisheries Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Funding provided for this program allowed SFF to hire a professional photographer to document fishermen working to protect vaquita with alternative gear in Baja. Photographer Alex Espinosa was born in Mexico City and has worked as a photographer since 2000. His work focuses on Latin America and documents social issues through documentary projects, reportage, and portraits.

Storied Seafood: Vaquita Conservation is the first in the Storied Seafood series that will highlight various perspectives and efforts throughout the seafood supply chain to address specific ocean conservation issues associated with seafood. It will provide a platform from which to discuss, develop, and inform the public about collaborative solutions for healthy people and ocean ecosystems. For future editions of Storied Seafood, visit the SFF website and follow their updates on Facebook and Twitter.

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