Manta rays are the largest rays on the planet. They are also one of the most endangered, with populations having plummeted in the last few years, but have almost no protection
At least 3,500 mantas rays are slaughtered for their gills, which supposedly have medicinal properties, every year. These great fish are slow to mature and reproduce, so populations cannot recover with this level of exploitation and numbers
Ironically, manta rays are worth a lot more alive than dead, as they attract snorkelling and scuba diving tourists, giving a much needed boost to the economies of coastal communities.
Mantas desperately need international protection and there is now an opportunity for them to get it.
The next CITES conference is taking place in Thailand this April, and manta rays may be added to the protected list, which ensures international legal protection.
Ask Thailand, whose vote is crucial but is considering objecting to the proposal, to help ensure the international regulation on endangered species finally covers manta rays.
We the undersigned ask that you not oppose the proposal that manta rays (Manta birostris and Manta alfredi) be added to the CITES (Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Appendix II list of species in which international trade is closely regulated. Both species are listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature as “vulnerable” on its Red List of Endangered Species and numbers are decreasing.
This is due in a large part to the trade in manta ray gills, which led to at least 3,500 manta rays, and probably more like 5,000, being killed every year, a level of exploitation which slow breeding and not especially numerous fish cannot sustain.
Aside from their own intrinsic importance and role in ocean ecosystems, manta rays also have enormous economic importance as a tourist attraction. One manta ray is estimated to indirectly contribute about million dollars to local economies over the course of its lifetime, provided it lives.
All this underlines the urgency of providing protection for the species and we ask that you do everything in your power to ensure that this happens.
Thank you for your attention.