The endangered vaquita porpoise, native to the Gulf of California, has some new support coming from Hollywood. Leonardo DiCaprio signed an agreement Wednesday with Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto and Mexico’s richest man, Carlos Slim, to save the species, the AP reports.
There are only about two dozen of the porpoises left; their primary threat are illegal gillnets.
“This action is a critical step towards ensuring that the Gulf of California continues to be both vibrant and productive, especially for species like the critically endangered vaquita,” said DiCaprio.
“Mexico understands its responsibility as one of the countries with greatest biodiversity,” said President Pena Nieto. “That is why we have implemented an historic effort to avoid the extinction of a unique species in the world and also to protect important ecosystems.”
The goal of the trio is to end the illegal use of gillnets and make an earlier, temporary ban permanent. These nets are mostly used to catch the totoaba fish, which is a delicacy in China.
So far, efforts to end the use of the nets have failed because the totoaba is so lucrative to illegal traders. The initiative is backed by the Mexican environmental group Pronatura Noroeste and both the Carlos Slim Foundation and the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation.
Authorities will begin catching the remaining porpoises later this year and try to rehabilitate them and increase their population in a protected marine sanctuary.
DiCaprio is an active environmentalist; he spoke about climate change at the United Nations last year and his documentary, “Before the Flood,” is available commercial free courtesy of the National Geographic Channel right now in response to Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord.