Yesterday, January 28th 2014 was a momentous day for our beloved Manta Rays. After years of constant work, both Manta biostris and Manta alfredi (the largest species of ray in our oceans) have been protected under Indonesian Law. This incredible news was announced by the Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Minister Sharif C.Sutardjo. "Mantas are our asset as an attraction for maritime tourism in Berau [East Kalimantan]; Komodo Islands in East NusaTenggara; Nusa Penida, Bali; and Raja Ampat [West Papua]," said Sharif.
This shift in the attitude towards one of the most graceful marine animals that graces the oceans around Indonesia comes not a little too late. This is due not only to the hard work of organisations such as Aquatic Alliance, Manta Trust, Project Aware, JAAN, Gili Eco Trust (and many others) but also due to the incredible support of you, the reader, the viewer, the audience that likes, comments and shares images and stories about Manta Rays and their importance and conservation as well as many other animals marine and terrestrial that need our help.
How this will trickle down to the grass roots and the local population we don't know yet. However we all hope that all parties can make this a realistic achievement. It will also hopfeully stop the mindless slaughter of Manta Rays at fisheries all over Indonesia. It is all too harrowing a sight.
Raja Ampat is has one of the highest frequencies of Manta activity in Indonesia and we hope that this, in future years, will have a positive impact on their population.
Here is the article from the Jakarta Post that broke the story on Tuesday 28th.
The Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Minister has declared the reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) and oceanic manta ray (Manta birostris) as protected fish species as they are facing an increased threat of extinction.
"In the beginning of 2014, we have decided on the protection of two manta ray species," said Fisheries and Maritime Affairs Minister Sharif C.Sutardjo on Tuesday as quoted by Antara news agency.
The protection on the two manta ray species is stipulated in fisheries and maritime affairs ministerial decree (Permen) No.04/2014 on manta ray protection status.
During the last 10 years, the reef manta ray and oceanic manta ray populations have experienced quite an extreme decline of between 33 percent and 57 percent.
The decline has mostly occurred in areas where mantas are hunted by traditional fishermen in Nusa Tenggara waters such as in Alor, Flores, Lamakera, Lamalera and Lombok. They catch around 900-1,300 manta rays annually.
However, manta rays face the threat of extinction primarily due to overfishing driven by the high demand for their fish gills being used as traditional medicine in China.
"Mantas are our asset as an attraction for maritime tourism in Berau [East Kalimantan]; Komodo Islands in East Nusa Tenggara; Nusa Penida, Bali; and Raja Ampat [West Papua]," said Sharif.
One individual manta ray can contribute an economic value of Rp 9.75 billion (US$799,500) throughout its life, whereas dead the fish sells for only Rp 1 million each. (ebf)"
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Tue, January 28 2014