The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Alejandro Olivera, +52 612 104 0604,

Shortfin Mako Shark, Warty Sea Cucumber Protection Sought in Mexico


The Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition today seeking protection for the shortfin mako shark and warty sea cucumber under Mexico's Standard NOM-059-SEMARNAT-2010, the nation's list of species at risk. The Mexican fishing industry catches thousands of both species every year.

Today's legal action seeks protections under NOM-059 outside the normal window that Mexico's Secretariat of Environment and Natural Resources (Semarnat) formally opens to receive such proposals. Semarnat opens the process for species proposals every five years, though the agency typically fails to meet even that extended schedule. Semarnat's practice creates long delays in species' protections.

"These animals are in serious trouble, and they can't wait years for the Mexican government to consider whether they deserve protection," said Alejandro Olivera, senior scientist and Mexico representative for the Center for Biological Diversity. "Last time it took 10 years for Semarnat to update the list of endangered species. We're in the midst of a biodiversity crisis, with species around the globe facing accelerating rates of extinction. From iconic mako sharks to little-known sea cucumbers, these imperiled creatures need safeguards now."

The Center's petition also requests listing of three hammerhead shark species, following another petition submitted by the organization last year.

Strong scientific evidence demonstrates that mako sharks and warty sea cucumbers urgently need protection, as already recognized internationally. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies shortfin mako sharks (lsurus oxyrinchus) as "endangered" globally and warty sea cucumbers (Parastichopus parvimensis) as "vulnerable" to extinction.

Yet in Mexico none of these imperiled wildlife species have sufficient protection and can be directly targeted for fishing. If the sharks and warty sea cucumber are added to NOM-059, Semarnat will be able to issue measures and regulations to ensure sustainable fishing, including limits on catching hatchlings, juveniles and pregnant females to ensure the populations' recovery.

Shortfin mako shark

The warty sea cucumber is currently managed through fishing permits in Mexico and in the U.S. state of California. IUCN estimates that the sea cucumber's population has declined by approximately 50% in Baja California and at least 30% in California over the past 20 years.

It is estimated that the species faces a decline of 30% to 40% throughout its entire range. The Center's assessment of the species finds it "threatened."

Mako sharks are also declining, facing a 50% to 79% population reduction over 75 years. Due to the mako shark's decline and vulnerability to overfishing, as well as degradation of their habitat, in 2019, makos were included in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) to monitor and limit trade. Mexico is a Party to CITES and officially cosponsored the CITES mako trade proposal, yet the country has failed to acknowledge domestic threats to the sharks.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.

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