Mexico to use drones to protect endangered porpoise

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Mexico City - Mexico is planning to use drones to patrol the upper Sea of Cortez to combat illegal fishing and save the critically endangered vaquita marina, the world's smallest porpoise.

Assistant environmental prosecutor Alejandro del Mazo said on Monday his agency has conducted tests of unmanned aircraft flights in co-operation with the Mexican Navy.

Del Mazo says he hopes to have three drones patrolling the vaquita's habitat in coming months. Also known as the Gulf of California, it is the only place vaquitas are found.

Fewer than 100 of the shy, elusive porpoises remain. The vaquita is threatened by illegal gillnet fishing for totoaba, a large fish whose swim bladder is prized by chefs in China.

Authorities are proposing a $37m plan to ban gill nets in the upper Gulf.

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