In Brazil, the capture and disturbance of cetaceans is illegal under Federal Law. The franciscana is recognized as nationally vulnerable in the Official List of Brazilian Fauna Species Threatened with Extinction (IBAMA 1989), as well as regionally vulnerable in both Rio de Janeiro State and Rio Grande do Sul State. In Argentina, hunting and capture of cetaceans and pinnipeds (walruses, sea lions and seals) is prohibited under the National Wildlife Conservation Legislation. Regional legislation in the provinces of Buenos Aires, Rio Negro and Chubut also provides indirect protection to the franciscana. In Uruguay, decree adopts measures for the protection and conservation of marine mammals. The National Fisheries Institute is responsible by law for the conservation of marine mammals. Although this legislation appears to offer protection for the franciscana, cooperation with these laws may be minimal due to the negative effects they may have on fisherman’s livelihoods. Furthermore, regulations on fishing practices can not be efficiently imposed until more is known about the location and timing of franciscana bycatch occurrences. A potential alternative may lie in modifying fishing practices and equipment, such as replacing gillnets with longlines as a means to reduce bycatch. The franciscana is listed on Appendix 2 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). International trade in this species is monitored through a licensing system to ensure that trade can be sustained without detriment to wild populations.
Direct conservation measures for this species have also been implemented. Proposed by specialists between 2003 and 2005, The ‘National Action Plan for the franciscana’ was finalised in 2010 with the help of numerous Brazilian bodies including the MMA (Ministry of the Environment) and the Chico Mendes Institute. Implemented in the same year, this 5 year plan will guide conservation of the franciscana until 2015. The overall goal of the action plan is to prevent a further fall in franciscana population numbers. This will be achieved by meeting a range of conservation targets including: evaluating the habitats and viability of all populations, implementing fishing control measures, increasing biological and ecological knowledge of the species, and strengthening political and international cooperation for species management. This plan will be coordinated by the National Centre for Research and Conservation of Aquatic Mammals CMA.
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