A proposed $37 million ban would prevent gillnet fishing in most of the upper Sea of Cortez, a practice that uses long nets that often entangle cetaceans (whales and dolphins) as bycatch. Fishers in the Sea of Cortez use gillnets to catch endangered totoaba, a large fish whose swim bladder is sought as a delicacy on the Chinese market. The species is illegal to fish, but demand is high - one fish can earn a whopping a $5,000 in the U.S. and $10,000 in Asia, according to the Smithsonian Institution.
Mexico's Agriculture and Fisheries Department has proposed that the ban would pay fishers to patrol the critically endangered vaquita's habitat and report other fishers who were gillnetting. It would be in place for two years, and would supplement a protected area already established at the mouth of the Colorado River delta.