Time to share the love, this Valentine’s Day, with something a little bit different! Red roses and chocolates are such a cliché – why not turn to the big blue for inspiration instead? Charm your date by declaring you’re an #OceanLover, show them you’re capable of caring – and taking positive action – about some big things, and if they’re looking for signs you’re ready for commitment… Well, what’s more compelling than saving a species from extinction!
The vaquita – a small species of porpoise which lives in the Gulf of California, in Mexico – hasn’t got much to celebrate this Valentine’s. With only 97 vaquita left in the wild, imagine how hard it can be for them to find a mate, let alone one they actually like! As if that wasn’t enough pressure already, the reality of illegal, destructive fishing practices means that without urgent action – on our part and theirs – the vaquita could become extinct as soon as 2018. (Shamefully for our species, this wouldn’t be the first time our generation will witness how we’ve managed to drive a cetacean species to extinction: have we really learnt nothing from having wiped out the baiji?)
It’s no secret that we are nearing a tipping point with many ocean ecosystems: precarious moments when we have one last chance to put protection in place before they are irreversibly changed forever, with serious consequences for the many marine creatures and people who depend on these ecosystems for food, life and livelihoods. But it’s not all doom and gloom! There’s a growing global community of #OceanLovers, people like us ready to take action for the oceans and the amazing life they support, including those of the last 97 vaquita. The even better news is that governments are beginning to pay attention, heed our urgent calls for action and act accordingly. In January this year, thousands of #OceanLovers from around the world secured a major breakthrough at the United Nations, and won a commitment that governments would work together towards the protection of the marine life in all international waters. Now it’s time we focussed that attention to save the vaquita!
In two weeks the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto is expected to sign a regulation banning (for two years, to begin with) all types of fishing gear that put the vaquita at risk. Of course, the challenge will be to ensure effective monitoring and enforcement of these measures, and then to see them continued. But you’ve got to agree, it would make a great beginning to a story you can tell for years to come.
This Valentine’s Day, then, start a beautiful story: you and me, together, we can save the vaquita. How about it?
Veronica Frank is an Ocean Lover and Greenpeace Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace International.
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