(NBC) — The Mexican government, tycoon Carlos Slim and American actor Leonardo DiCaprio have unveiled a joint plan to protect a small porpoise in the Gulf of California that has become a potent symbol of critically endangered animal species.
Populations of the snub-nosed vaquita porpoise have plummeted due to gillnet fishing for shrimp and totoaba, a popular delicacy in Asia, sparking increasing calls for action.
Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto met Hollywood star DiCaprio and slim in his official residence in Mexico City Wednesday to sign a memorandum of understanding committing to conserve marine life in the Gulf of California, including the vaquita.
According to foundations run by slim and DiCaprio, there are now fewer than 30 of the vaquita left in the wild.
The accord comes less than a month after DiCaprio urged his fans on social media to petition Pena Nieto to save the vaquita, which prompted the president to take to Twitter to assure the actor that Mexico was doing all it could to protect the porpoise.
Under the memorandum, the signatories undertook to make permanent a temporary ban on using gillnets in the vaquita’s waters and to step up efforts to combat the use of illegal gillnets, as well as the prosecution of illegal fishing and totoaba poaching.