Project

Mobulid ray conservation

Species
  • Rays & Skates
Years funded
  • 2014, 2015, 2016
Status
  • Active
Project type
  • Conservation
Affiliation
Description

All over the world, manta and mobula rays are under pressure from fishing. Guy and the Manta Trust are working with other NGOs and using international legislation and public awareness to keep these majestic animals in our oceans.

Mobulid ray conservation

Guy Stevens

Project leader
About the project leader

I have been fascinated by the natural world all my life and growing up on a farm in south-western UK provided me with a seemingly limitless supply of weird and wonderful creatures to discover. I always knew that I wanted to make studying animals my career, but it was only when I was given a tropical fish tank at the age of 11 that my passion for the underwater world began. From that moment forward I would say ‘I want to study fish!’ when asked what I planned to do when I grew up. True to my word, I progressed...

PROJECT LOCATION : Worldwide
All news about this project
By Guy Stevens, 21st April 2015
A joint effort for sharks and rays in the Pacific
Words by Isabel Ender The past three days have not only been inspiring and productive, but also great fun. Not many people can say that they love their job AND the people they interact with through their work, but I certainly do. This past week,…
By Guy Stevens, 9th November 2014
CMS CoP11: Clean Sweep for Mobulids & Sharks!
Incredible news! All sharks, mobula rays and the reef manta have been successfully adopted under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species! The announcement was made at 12:33 pm in Quito, Ecuador. This is a massive, game-changing moment for shark and mobulid conservation. We’d…
By Guy Stevens, 8th November 2014
CMS CoP11: Teamwork! The First Few Days in Ecuador
If there is one word to summarise the last few days at CMS CoP11 in Quito, Ecuador, it is TEAMWORK. It is amazing to see how pretty much all the NGOs and IGOs present work together to collaborate, support and inform each other on how…
By Guy Stevens, 6th November 2014
CMS CoP11: Mobulids Receive Initial Support from CMS Parties
Just a quick update from CMS CoP11 in Ecuador – both the proposal for reef mantas & the proposal for all mobula rays have received unanimous support from the CMS Parties! What happens next? Just like CITES in 2013, the proposals will be considered a…
By Guy Stevens, 3rd November 2014
CMS CoP11: A Guide to a Big Week for Mobulid Conservation
Today marks the start of what we hope will be another game-changing week for manta and mobula ray conservation. From the 4th – 9th November 2014, an important convention will be taking place in Quito, Ecuador, known as the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory…
By Guy Stevens, 14th September 2014
Manta & Shark CITES Listings Come Into Effect
Today marks a special day for shark and ray conservation! Sunday 14th of September 2014 is the day when all manta rays, and five species of sharks will be effectively included under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). What…
By Guy Stevens, 6th June 2014
All Ray Species Now Protected In The Maldives
The Maldivian government 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…
Project details

A global strategy and action plan for the long-term conservation of mobulid rays

Key objective

The key objective of this project is to see all species of mobulid rays protected or effectively managed, for sustainable use or non-consumptive use, ideally, by the people closest to them through a means that promotes wider ocean conservation.

Why is this important

In recent years manta and mobula rays have faced increasing threats from both targeted and by-catch fisheries due to a growing trade in their highly valued gill plates. The conservative life history traits of manta rays (slow growth, late maturity and low fecundity) make these animals extremely susceptible to any consumptive exploitation. Although less is known about their mobula cousins, it can be assumed that they share many of these conservative life history traits and that they are similarly threatened by consumptive use. It is vital, due to the vulnerability of these species, that this issue be addressed immediately to prevent regional extinctions, make certain that regulations are adhered to and ensure that mobulid rays do not come under increasing levels of exploitation as their manta ray counterparts are protected.

Background

“The family Mobulidae is a small (2 genera and 11 recognised species) but diverse family of planktivorous elasmobranchs with a global distribution across tropical, subtropical and temperate waters. The genus Manta comprises two recognised species, the reef manta Manta alfredi and the oceanic manta Manta birostris, and the genus Mobula comprises nine species.

In recent years, targeted and by-catch fisheries affecting all mobulid species have become increasingly prevalent. The FAO reported that during the period 2000–2007 catches across the Mobulid family increased from 900 to 3,300 tonnes, with additional unreported catches likely. Although the meat of these animals is deemed to be of poor quality and worth little, the gill plates, or branchial filaments, have become highly sought after in Asian markets where they are used in a medicinal tonic.

Both species of manta rays are considered unsustainable as a fisheries resource due to several elements of their life history, such as late maturity, low fecundity and slow growth. Although less is known about their mobula cousins, it can be assumed that they share many of these conservative life history traits and that they are also threatened by consumptive use. At present, mantas are much more widely studied than mobulas; this is a key gap in knowledge that needs to be addressed.

During approximately the same time period that mobulid fisheries have intensified, research into these species has also developed, and tourism built upon encounters with these animals has grown in economic importance. This has highlighted both the vulnerability and value of these animals, and many steps have already been taken to try to improve their conservation status. However, a long-term plan to ensure continued conservation and sustainable use of all mobulids is essential, both to ensure existing measures are to be effectively implemented and that further measures are put in place for the genus Mobula.”

Aims & objectives

The aims and objectives of this project are to:

  • Extend current research efforts concerning mobulid rays with the specific focus of furthering the knowledge of species within the genus Mobula. Research will focus on improving knowledge of key biological aspects of these species’ life histories and an expansion of monitoring fisheries for these species.
  • Facilitate the effective implementation of existing legislation and work with governments to achieve national-level protective measures.
  • Provide educational opportunities for students of all ages in all locations that will allow them to learn about mobulid rays and ocean conservation more broadly.
  • Improve awareness and understanding among the general public about mobulid rays, the threats that face them and potential solutions.
  • Achieve a listing on CITES Appendix II for the genus Mobula.