Sea Shepherd founder says environmental efforts aren't popular with some Mexican locals

The founder of an environmental group attacked in Mexico's Gulf of California says the group's attempts to protect the world's rarest marine mammal hasn't made them popular with some locals.

Sea Shepherd founder and the captain of vessel Farley Mowat, Paul Watson, said the group has confiscated more than 120,000km of illegal gillnets.

"That's cost the poachers well over $1 million, so of course they're getting quite angry," said Capt Watson.

On Wednesday (local time), the vessel was ambushed by two dozen fishing boats throwing missiles and Molotov cocktails.

It's a battle on the high seas between illegal fisherman who are hunting endangered species and the environmental groups who are trying to protect them.

The poachers want Totoaba bladders, known as aquatic cocaine, and they sell for up to $20,000 per kilogram.

But the world's rarest marine mammal, the vaquita marina, also gets caught in their nets, and now there's less than 30 left.

"I firmly believe that the vaquita would now be extinct if it wasn't for our presence there," said Capt Watson.

"They are very similar to the Maui dolphin in New Zealand and we are looking at that situation also."

The environmental group has handed video of the assault over to Mexican authorities and they say if the poachers are caught, they will be charged.


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