Why wildlife lose out in politics: Gillnets and Fishing Industry versus dolphins: Two dolphins, one in New Zealand and the other in Mexico, are threatened by the use of gillnets used by the fishing industry. Christopher Pala of New Zealand recently reported in Science Magazine (Feb. 10, 2017, vol. 355, Issues #6325, p. 559) that the Maui dolphin that lives on the coasts of New Zealand is extremely threatened with the latest count estimated to be 69 in existence. One of the major threats to it are gillnets used by fishing trawlers. New Zealand has partially responded by banning the use of the nets in 1600 square miles of coastal waters but this only represents about 5% of the dolphins total habitat. Environmentalists such as Greenpeace New Zealand have asked the ban to be extended to the dolphin’s entire habitat but the government has refused to do so due to reluctance to hurt the fishing industry.
In Mexico, the vaquita is the small porpoise that is threatened. The latest estimated count of vaquita is down to 30 from 60 for the previous year. The gillnets are used by fishers to catch the totoaba—a fish that has a bladder that is sold in the black market in China. Though there is a gillnet ban in Mexico, according to Virginia Morell (Science Magazine, Feb. 10, 2017, vol. 355, #6325, p. 558), the ban is not well-enforced and fishers don’t use gillnets that have escapes for the dolphin. The situation is so dismal for the porpoise that teams are now preparing to capture vaquita for captive breeding to prevent the total extermination of the species.
Taken together, these two cases illustrate how human interests and needs for fish and global markets create crises and also how official bans and laws aimed at protecting wildlife often are not enforced. If the beneficiaries of the laws were human, then there is a greater likelihood that failed or weak enforcement would be noticed. These weaknesses again show why the long-term survival of species is pessimistic—wildlife are likely to be the losers in competitive politics of who gets what when how.
I have just completed a book titled "Wildlife Politics" that is scheduled to be published by Cambridge University Press on March 30, 2017. The book covers broadly all major aspects of wildlife conservation policy worldwide. During my research for the book, I noticed that there was no blog available for sharing informaton on wildlife conservation and thus I set up this blog to accomplish this purpose. Please share any informaticoncerning issues related to wildife policy and politics. I welcome feedback from users concerning this blog and website.