Mexican Marines: Poacher Shot 'Accidently' After Attack On Sea Shepherd

By Kendal Blust
Published: Friday, March 29, 2019 - 4:16pm
Updated: Monday, April 1, 2019 - 8:41am

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patrol ship
Kendal Blust/KJZZ
Mexican authorities patrol the vaquita refuge area in the Sea of Cortez for poachers in October 2018.

Mexican marines say a man was shot Thursday when a gun accidentally fired during a skirmish with poachers in a small fishing town on Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.

The Mexican Marine Secretariat said in a prepared statement Thursday night that the confrontation took place that morning after marines in San Felipe tracked down poachers who had allegedly attacked an activist ship.

The ship with Sea Shepherd Conservation Society removes illegal fishing nets from a protected area for the nearly-extinct vaquita marina porpoise. The nets are used to catch a large fish called the totoaba that is valuable on the black market in China. But they can also trap and drown vaquitas. The newest estimates suggest there are likely only 10 vaquitas left in the Sea of Cortez.

When marines confronted the suspected poachers at the docks in San Felipe, the men resisted, and in the struggle a gun “accidentally fired,” and one of the men was injured by the shot, the statement says. The marines tried to leave the scene to avoid further violence, but a few other people reportedly sustained injuries during protests after the shooting, according to the marines.

The marines will cooperate with an investigation into the incident, the statement says, and impose sanctions on those involved if necessary.

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