Infographic: Manta and Devil Rays at Risk
Fished at alarming rates, manta and devil rays line the streets of many fish markets around the world – sought primarily for their gill rakers – the feathery structures these filter feeders use to strain their food as they glide through the water. At a one-time payout of about $250 per kilogram, is it really worth the destruction?
“The demand for their valuable gill rakers used in Chinese health tonic is driving overfishing of these species,” said Ania Budziak, Project AWARE’s Associate Director of Science and Policy. “Unfortunately, they’re easy to target and they’re most likely disappearing quicker than most people realize. The catch of these species reported to FAO has nearly quadrupled in the past decade while 8 of the 11 species are classified as threatened by IUCN, meaning they are at risk of extinction in the wild.”
Like sharks, mantas are at the top of every diver’s must-see list. So living mantas can bring significant, lasting economic benefits to tropical islands and coastal communities across the globe. A single manta is estimated to be worth $1 million in tourism over its lifetime; while that same manta could be worth as little as $150 to a fishery.
Project AWARE and our partners worked hard and succeeded in helping to get mantas protected under CITES to ensure that international trade is strictly controlled and held to sustainable levels. This was a historic milestone for manta conservation, but we’re not stopping there. Check out Project AWARE’s infographic, Manta and Devil Rays at Risk, learn more and find out what you can do to help.
Asia and Pacific nations agreed at a meeting in the Philippines on Wednesday to take steps to protect whale sharks in a victory for the world’s largest fish, officials said.
This rule follows negotiations by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement for three years to try and get the big fishing nations to adopt protections for whale sharks”
Nanette Malsol, Palau fishing official
Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission nations agreed that tuna fishers must stop setting their nets around the vulnerable giants in order to catch smaller fish that gather underneath them, said Palau fishing official Nanette Malsol.
She said the deal binds tuna-fishing nations such as the United States, China, and Japan, and was a victory for a coalition of small Pacific nations, called the Parties to the Nauru Agreement, that has been campaigning for this measure.
“This rule follows negotiations by the Parties to the Nauru Agreement for three years to try and get the big fishing nations to adopt protections for whale sharks,” said Malsol, who also heads the coalition.
The small Pacific island nations said they already imposed such a rule on their own tuna fishers.
Smaller fish like tuna congregate under whale sharks, so fishermen often seek the giants and set their nets under them to catch the other fish, said Angelo Villagomez, a spokesman of the the US-based Pew Environment Group.
As a result, whale sharks, which are considered a vulnerable species, often get entangled in tuna nets and die, he said.
Fifty whale sharks were recorded having died from tuna nets in 2010 and 19 in 2011, said Villagomez, adding that there were likely many other cases which went unreported.
Parties to the agreement reached at the Manila meeting Wednesday must free any whale shark that gets caught in their nets and must also record and report any incidents involving the giant fish, Malsol said.
The Pew group, which is also attending the meeting, is pressing for other measures to protect 143 other threatened species of sharks that are affected by tuna fishers.
However Villagomez said he doubted they would pass as some fishing countries actively catch these sharks.
Whale sharks measure as much as 12 metres long but are harmless to humans and feed on tiny marine animals.
They have become popular tourist attractions in countries such as the Philippines, Mexico and Australia.