Leonardo DiCaprio Teams Up With The Mexican President To Save An Endangered Species

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images/National Geographic.

Leonardo DiCaprio has a new ally in his fight to save the environment: Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. DiCaprio and President Peña Nieto teamed up with Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim to protect marine ecosystems, signing an agreement on Wednesday that commits them all to preventing harmful fishing practices in the upper Gulf of California.

A critically endangered species, the vaquita porpoise, lives in the gulf and has decreased in population largely due to gillnets (a type of net that traps fish by their gills). The Memorandum of Understanding signed by DiCaprio, President Peña Nieto, and Slim made a temporary ban on gillnets permanent, as well as committed Mexican resources to preventing illegal fishing in the area and encouraging more sustainable fishing.

DiCaprio tweeted that he was honored they were working together "to ensure the future viability of marine life in the Gulf."

The vaquita population shrank from 60 in 2016 to just 30 in 2017, according to the International Committee for the Recovery of the Vaquita.

The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) called on the Mexican government to take action, as the world’s smallest porpoise only lives in the upper Gulf of California, writing on its website: "The only way to save the vaquita from extinction is for the Mexican government to immediately and indefinitely ban all fisheries within its habitat and ensure full and effective enforcement."

DiCaprio tweeted about the vaquita in May, asking people to join him and the WWF to help save the endangered marine mammal.

The agreement, posted on The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation's website, also says a working group will form to oversee the actions outlined in the agreement and all three parties will submit a strategy for how they will contribute to combatting the illegal fishing and gillnets threatening the vaquita population.

This collaboration to save an endangered species comes a week after the United States announced it will withdraw from the international Paris climate deal.