Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, January 21, 2021


Alejandro Olivera, +52 612 104 0604,

Shortfin Mako Shark, Warty Sea Cucumber Protection Sought in Mexico

LA PAZ, 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.

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.

Shortfin mako shark
Shortfin mako shark photo by NMFS/Southwest Fisheries Science Center. Image is available for media use.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

center locations