On July 23, 24 and 25 WWF Mexico and members of the ECOFT visited the facilities of the Marine Institute to test four different type of gear for shrimp to be used in the Upper Gulf of California. A modified gillnet with thinnest thread and open windows was tested. Results of these test indicate that in case of the interaction of vaquita and this gillnets, in regular operation conditions, will end with vaquita entanglement. Other three options were tested with very good options to succeed, one 35 ft trawl, one beam trawl and a modified Sinaloa cast net (suripera).
35ft Shrimp Trawl: 35ft shrimp trawl has a better performance that the original 50ft shrimp trawl because the entrance of the net opens more in terms of square meters, its light weigth reduce fuel consumption and its easier to operate. ECOFT strongly recommends the 35ft net be employed in the upcoming shrimp fishery and basic training in its use be conducted as a matter of urgency.
Suripera: These and previous tank tests identified simple modifications that would make the net suited to use in the UGC. This can begin with immediate effect. ECOFT recommends that minor modification be made to the edges of the net to remove loose panels of netting. The length of the front skirt should be extended with regard to the rear skirt to ensure the rear skirt is held at a minimum of 2m above the seabed. ECOFT recommends this as a fuel efficient and viable fishing method for use in the UGC. Basic training in its use should begin as a matter of urgency.
Monofilament Gillnets: The monofilament gillnets tested here would kill vaquitas. Therefore, all nets provided by the Fisher’s Federations pose a significant danger of mortality to vaquita and other vulnerable animals. The ECOFT Committee cannot approve the use of any of the gillnets that were tested here, for use in the UGC.