The Americas

Mexico's fight for endangered vaquita porpoise turns violent

A gang of dozens of fishermen overturned inspectors' vehicles, burned 15 trucks and patrol boats, and beat three inspectors from the office for environmental protection in a town on Mexico's Gulf of California.

The fishermen were angered by Mexico's attempt to save the vaquita porpoise by banning some types of net fishing in the Sea of Cortez, where only about 30 of the elusive animals are believed to survive.

The office said Thursday that the inspectors managed to escape, but that criminal charges were being filed.

Fishermen lured by Chinese demand for the swim bladder of a fish known as the totoaba, which inhabits the same waters as the vaquita, have decimated the porpoise population.

Vaquitas are caught in the same kind of nets that illegal totoaba fishermen use.