Conserving mobulas under fire

  • Rays & Skates
Years funded
  • 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017
  • Active
Project type
  • Research

Conservation is never an easy task, but it’s even harder in a battleground. Mohammed works with fishing communities in Gaza to find out how to protect mobula rays during their visits to the east Mediterranean Sea.

Conserving mobulas under fire

Mohammed Abudaya

Project leader
About the project leader
My interest in aquatic organisms began at an early age as I lived on the eastern Mediterranean coast at Gaza and learned to love the ocean. The sea has been a happy place for me since I learned how to deal with strong waves at the age of 11. This was reinforced and became my focus when I was studying for my undergraduate and graduate degrees and my interest in marine and coastal studies developed. My PhD at the University of London fixed the course I would follow: to protect and conserve marine creatures and their habitats. My current research on...
PROJECT LOCATION : Gaza, Palestine
Project details

Assessment of the Gaza fishery of the giant devil ray Mobula mobular

Key objective

This project aims to undertake an assessment of the scale of the seasonal mobulid fishery in Gaza, Palestine. This will include the collection of biological, ecological and socio-economic data.

Why is this important

Recent images and reports have revealed a targeted fishery for the giant devil ray, an endangered species, in Gaza. We need to collect data now before this ray is pushed to the point of collapse.


The giant devil ray occurs in deep, offshore waters and occasionally in shallow waters throughout the Mediterranean Sea. Until now there were not thought to be any direct fisheries for giant devil rays, although high mortality rates have been reported for this species when its caught accidentally in pelagic driftnets targeting swordfish in the Mediterranean. Giant devil rays are also accidentally captured in long-lines, purse seine nets, trawl nets and fixed traditional tuna traps. They are also occasionally caught as by-catch in the western central Ligurian Sea, where long-line catches have been monitored since 1999.
The giant devil ray is included in Annex II of the ‘List of endangered or threatened species’ to the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean of the Barcelona Convention, which came into force in 2001. Recent regional legislation has introduced new basin-wide bans of pelagic driftnets; if implemented, this would eliminate one of the most severe threats to the species.

Aims & objectives

The aims and objectives of this project are to:

  • Collect data on mobulid rays from fish landing sites in Gaza.
  • Identify the fishing methods used and the seasonality of this fishery.
  • Estimate the scale and sustainability of the Gaza mobulid fishery.
  • Collect information on the gill plate trade and the value of mobulids for the local economy.