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 Director General, Ibrhahim Naeem said “Rays have gotten so rare now that we fear [their] extinction, when it earns a lot of profit in tourism.” You can read the official Manta Trust press release and download it for free here.
This announcement is a huge step forward for the conservation of all ray species in the Maldives and highlights the governments dedication to protecting these vulnerable animals. Manta rays are declining rapidly in the face of targeted fisheries elsewhere in the world, which are driven by an emerging market for their gill plates. Whilst there is no established fishery for manta rays in the Maldives, the new legislation will help prevent one from developing in the future. Furthermore, it will help to improve the sustainability of manta ray tourism within the archipelago – an incredibly lucrative industry of national importance, but one that can generate negative impacts on the species. Implementing their protection in the Maldives strengthens the countries reputation as a leader in marine conservation and promotes the valuable, sustainable tourism trade based around manta populations.
We would like to thank the Maldivian government for taking this positive step. We also want to thank everyone who supported and signed the Manta Trusts’ “Protect Maldivian Manta Rays” petition. Your votes made the difference!