To save the world's rarest marine mammal, conservationists seek ban on Mexican seafood imports

A decade of rescue crusades by conservation groups, hard-core eco-activists and the U.S. Navy have failed to prevent the world’s rarest porpoise from becoming fatally entangled in gill nets set for seafood in Mexico’s northern Gulf of California.

Now, with fewer than 20 left in the wild, the prospect of the vaquita’s extinction within two years has prompted a last-ditch effort with significant economic and political consequences for the United States and Mexico.

Conservationists on Tuesday asked an international trade court judge in New York for a preliminary injunction banning imports of an estimated $16 million worth of fish and shrimp harvested with gill nets in an area of the gulf roughly a third of the size of Los Angeles County and just three hours south of the border.

U.S. Court of International Trade Judge Gary Katzmann said he would rule within two weeks. His decision may hinge, in part, on whether the costs of implementing an embargo to save the species are greater than the costs of its disappearance.

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