Indonesia on Friday instituted the world's biggest manta ray sanctuary covering millions of square kilometres as it seeks to protect the huge winged fish and draw more tourists to the sprawling archipelago.
New legislation gives full protection to the creatures across all the waters surrounding Southeast Asia's biggest country, which for years has been the world's largest ray and shark fishery.
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.