Fished at alarming rates, manta and devil rays line the streets of many fish markets around the world – sought primarily for their gill rakers – the feathery structures these filter feeders use to strain their food as they glide through the water. At a one-time payout of about $250 per kilogram, is it really worth the destruction?
“The demand for their valuable gill rakers used in Chinese health tonic is driving overfishing of these species,” said Ania Budziak, Project AWARE’s Associate Director of Science and Policy. “Unfortunately, they’re easy to target and they’re most likely disappearing quicker than most people realize. The catch of these species reported to FAO has nearly quadrupled in the past decade while 8 of the 11 species are classified as threatened by IUCN, meaning they are at risk of extinction in the wild.”
Like sharks, mantas are at the top of every diver’s must-see list. So living mantas can bring significant, lasting economic benefits to tropical islands and coastal communities across the globe. A single manta is estimated to be worth $1 million in tourism over its lifetime; while that same manta could be worth as little as $150 to a fishery.
Project AWARE and our partners worked hard and succeeded in helping to get mantas protected under CITES to ensure that international trade is strictly controlled and held to sustainable levels. This was a historic milestone for manta conservation, but we’re not stopping there. Check out Project AWARE’s infographic, Manta and Devil Rays at Risk, learn more and find out what you can do to help.
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