Around the Region

Talk of renewed totoaba fishing spurs vaquita porpoise worries

Mexico’s top fishing official says the country hopes to lift the commercial fishing ban on totoaba, this even though experts fear the move could ensure the extinction of another species that inhabits the upper Gulf of California—the vaquita porpoise. The totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi), which is endemic to the Gulf of California, has for years been listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Pablo Arenas, General Director of Mexico’s National Fishing Institute (Inapesca) since 2015, disclosed the government’s desire to lift the ban in Sept. 20 remarks to Excelsior, a Mexican daily newspaper. Arenas said that a forthcoming, two-year study by the institute shows the totoaba is no longer in danger of extinction, and that its population has recovered enough to allow it to be commercially fished if that fishing is carried out in a responsible way. The totoaba has been a favorite...

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Jaguar from Brazil sent to Argentina’s Iberá wetland

After a 26-hour truck ride from the Caiman Ecological Refuge in Brazil’s vast Pantanal wetland region, a jaguar (Panthera onca) arrived in the Argentine province of Corrientes on Oct. 18 to take up residence in another huge wetland—the Iberá. The move was the latest in a project to reintroduce the jaguar, the largest cat in the Americas, into Argentina’s Iberá—the second-largest wetland in the Americas behind the Pantanal. The male jaguar, believed to be about three years old, had been found injured near a rural school in Brazil in August 2018, and had recovered under the care of Oncafari, a conservation project at the Caiman refuge. It was Oncafari that sent the jaguar to the Iberá—specifically to the Conservation Land Trust (CLT), a land-protection foundation that for years has managed an ambitious conservation and wildlife-reintroduction project in the Iberá. CLT was founded by...

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New accident clouds tailings dam safety efforts in Brazil

Since the deadly collapse of a mine-tailings dam in the east-central Brazilian state of Minas Gerais in January—just over three years after a similar accident at another location in the state—national authorities have worked to shut down tailings dams deemed to be at the greatest risk of failure. But the rupture this month of a third dam not targeted for closure has prompted calls for a broadening of government tailings-dam safety efforts. In the Oct. 1 accident, a relatively small tailings dam serving a gold mine in western Mato Grosso state failed, spilling 257,000 cubic meters of mining waste over a 25-hectare (62-acre) forested area. Though the accident caused no fatalities, it further fanned concern that has built since November 2015, when an iron-ore tailings dam co-owned by Brazilian mining giant Vale and the Anglo-Australian BHP Group ruptured, loosing a...

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