Globally, manta and mobula rays are under serious threat as they are targeted for their gills plates, which are sold as a treatment in traditional Chinese medicine. Nick is developing a worldwide network and strategy to ensure these rays remain a part of our oceans.
To improve the conservation status of manta and devil rays through the development of a Global Conservation Strategy.
Manta and devil rays are threatened by the international trade in their valuable gill plates. This combined with their slow life history, high catchability and global distribution means that we need a global focus to ensure effective conservation.
Manta and devil rays (family: Mobulidae) are highly mobile, broadly distributed and they routinely cross international boundaries. They are globally threatened by fisheries for the trade of their gill plates, which are highly valued in Asian markets. There is little protection to date; consequently calls for improved protection are increasing. However, the implementation of effective protections depends entirely upon the availability and communication of relevant scientific knowledge to those people best placed to take action. The IUCN Shark Specialist Group (SSG) is well-placed to coordinate and develop such a global strategy for the conservation of mobulids. Our role is to provide a suitable environment and framework within a broad group of people and organisations that can work towards developing a global mobulid conservation strategy within the wider experience of IUCN conservation planning.
We anticipate the following achievements during our first year:
Manta and devil rays are caught as by-catch in the tuna purse-seine fishery. Using new genetic tools to find out which species are caught in the Eastern Pacific, Donald and Melissa are working with the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission to turn the tide for these poorly understood and highly threatened rays.
With no real information about whether or how mobulid rays survive after being released from purse-seine fishing nets in the Eastern Pacific, Josh is training fishery observers to assess the impact of this fishery on these by-catch species and to create best-practice release guidelines to improve the survival rate of the rays.