The Maldivian government, during World Environment Day on June 5th, have announced that all ray species, including both species of mantas will be added to the list of Protected species. This new legislation makes it illegal to capture, keep or harm any type of ray in the Maldives. The Environment Protection Agency's Director General, Ibrhahim Naeem said "Rays have gotten so rare now that we fear its extinction, when it earns a lot of profit in tourism."
The Maldives hosts the largest
population of reef manta rays (Manta alfredi) in the world, but there is
no national law which prohibits fishing or harming these increasingly
vulnerable species. In many other countries the direct fishing of manta rays
and their relatives, driven by the increased demand of gill plates in Eastern Asia,
is decimating regional populations. Increased pressures from tourism are also having detrimental impacts on these species which national legislation can help to control.
Manta rays give birth to only one live born pup on average just once every 3-5
years and have one of the longest gestation periods of any animal. Their
extremely conservative reproductive strategy, coupled with a slow growth rate
and late maturity makes manta rays extremely vulnerable to exploitation. For
these reasons many countries are acting quickly to safeguard their regional
population of mantas. Indonesia, one of the world's leading manta tourism
destinations like the Maldives, recently established the largest manta ray
sanctuary in the world, protecting a 6 million sq. kilometre region!
Manta rays are an important resource in the Maldives, generating over US$8
million every year through manta ecotourism. The Maldives has already
demonstrated its commitment to marine conservation by protecting all species of
sharks and establishing several Marine Protected Areas throughout the
archipelago. Now we ask the Maldives to launch a powerful message to the world
and continue being a leader in marine conservation by declaring nationwide
protection for manta rays and their relatives!
Thank you, every vote
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Posted: 13 March 2014 (Updated: 14 April 2015)