Indonesia Announces World’s Largest Sanctuary for Manta Rays
The Indonesian government has banned fishing for manta rays within its EEZ (exclusive economic zone) which stretches for almost 2.3 million square miles (6 million square kilometers), creating the world’s largest sanctuary for the fish.
Conservation organizations and researchers have made a major impact on the decision which will mainly protect two manta ray species, the reef manta(Manta alfredi) and the oceanic manta (Manta birostris). “This decision was a crucial victory for manta ray conservation,” writes Andrea Marshall, director of the Marine Megafauna Foundation and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.
The decision to protect manta rays was also influenced by a 2013′ study on the economic effects of manta ray tourism versus manta fisheries. The study was in the journal, PLoS ONE. Indonesia has some of the largest manta ray populations in the world and they are mainly hunted to feed the traditional medicine trade. The price of a manta ray in fish markets in Sri Lanka and Indonesia ranged from $40 to $200. Indonesia is one of the top three destinations for manta ray watching in the world. Manta tourism contributes an estimated US$15 million to the economy every year. The total annual income from Indonesia’s manta ray fisheries is much less, at US$ 442,000.