Video of delegate celebrations as Manta’s are voted for CITES Appendix II with overwhelming majority.
- Sea Save
The final plenary for all the elasmobranch proposals for restricted trade is tomorrow morning in Bangkok. They all won by at least a 2/3 majority, but secret ballots and politics can still overturn the decisions (e.g. Porbeagle sharks at CITES in 2008 and 2010).
Advocates at CITES have been working tirelessly since Monday’s votes to encourage delegates to #StandByYourVote. Fins crossed, and tune in for news tomorrow!
Have you met Shark Stanley and his mates?
It’s embarrassing that so few species of elasmobranchs are internationally protected from trade, especially considering how many are classified as endangered, AND the intense demand for fins and gill rakers for unproven medicinal properties.
CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) is an multi-lateral (lots of countries) environmental agreement (they signed a treaty) targeting the trade in endangered species. Species are listed under one of three Appendices that controls the trade of these species and/or their parts between signatory countries.
And there aren’t many sharks on there. Or rays.
In fact, the only elasmobranch species listed are:
- White shark (Carcharodon carcharias)
- Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus)
- Whale shark (Rhincodon typus)
- Seven species of Sawfish.
Pretty lacking don’t you think? We can definitely do better. And a lot of people are trying. The next CITES meeting begins March 3rd 2013, and there’s a big push for several elasmobranch species to be listed.
Shark Defenders have a fintastic campaign to show public support for this move. Meet Shark Stanley, Manta Reina, Pierre le Porbeagle and Waqi Whitetip. You can find them all on http://www.sharkdefenders.com/. Print out the cut outs and get modelling! Shark Defenders wants 5000 photos from all 177 signatory countries.
How to submit? Upload your photos to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram tagged with@SharkDefenders, #SharkStanley, and the country where you live (i.e. #USA, #Fiji, #Brazil, etc) or Email your photos to email@example.com for us to compile into a unique petition. You can also send your photos directly to your country’s CITES representative (follow this link and look up your country).
I can’t wait until I can get to a printer and a laminator and take our friends for an underwater photo shoot!
Well done Captain Khan, what a catch. I’m really glad you got the baby in your hands as well otherwise I wouldn’t have thought you were such a big strong man without a superiority complex.
I shouldn’t. I wasn’t there, I don’t know the state of the oceanic manta population in 1933, I don’t know if you caught it on purpose, I don’t know if from then on you dedicated your life to something honorable. I shouldn’t but I completely judge you for this. In a bad way.
Know your rays!
A day at a Sri Lankan Fish Market
Daniel Fernando’s work in the Sri Lankan fish markets is probably some of the most challenging work we do as the Manta Trust. Making Daniel’s work even harder (if it’s possible) is the fact the Daniel has spent time working as a volunteer for the Manta Trust in the Maldives and has had some amazing encounters with these animals in their natural environment.
In this blog Daniel explains a little more about the heartbreaking work he does in the Sri Lankan Manta Project.
Good Days for Giant Manta Rays
Giant manta rays hit the ocean headlines today with the news that they are to gain their first ever global protection from the many problems they face.
Giant mantas (Manta birostris) are to be added to the Convention on Migratory Species (or CMS), an intergovernmental treaty set up to help get nations working together to conserve the endangered animals that roam around our planet, ignoring the political boundaries we set up.
The biggest threat to mantas is fishing. They are enormous and like to hang in predicable spots, making them an easy catch. And fishermen are increasingly targeting them to feed emerging demand from the traditional east Asian medicine trade for manta ray gill rakers – the comb-like structures inside their huge mouths that sieve tiny plankton food from the water column.
All nations signed up to the convention that are lucky enough to have manta rays gracing their waters, will now have to make concerted efforts to protect both mantas and their critical areas of habitat. CMS listing will also spearhead international efforts to protect these giant cousins of sharks.
Currently mantas are protected by national laws in a number of countries including Hawaii, Maldives, Philippines, and Ecuador. But being such immense swimmers, they often migrate into unprotected waters.
Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris)
Red List Category: Vulnerable
Year Assessed: 2011
Assessor/s: Marshall, A., Bennett, M.B., Kodja, G., Hinojosa-Alvarez, S., Galvan-Magana, F., Harding, M., Stevens, G. & Kashiwagi, T.
The Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris), the largest living ray, has a circumtropical and also semi-temperate distribution throughout the world’s major oceans, however within this broad range, actual populations appear to be sparsely distributed and highly fragmented. This is likely due to the specific resource and habitat needs of this species.
Overall population size is unknown, but subpopulations appear to be small (about 100–1,000 individuals). Only recently separated from the Reef Manta Ray (M. alfredi), little is currently known about this ray except that it is elusive and potentially highly migratory.
The degree of interchange of individuals between subpopulations is unclear but is assumed to be low as there are currently no data that support such interchange despite active efforts to do so. As such, the decline of these small subpopulations may result in regional depletions or extinctions with the reduced possibility of successful recolonization.
To aggravate this situation, this species has a very conservative life history with an extremely low reproductive output (one pup per litter). These biological constraints would also contribute to its slow or lack of recovery from population reductions.
Currently this species has a high value in international trade and directed fisheries exist that target this species in what is certain to be unsustainable numbers. Artisanal fisheries also exist that target this species for food and medicine. Individuals are also taken as bycatch in everything from large-scale fisheries to shark control programs/bather protection nets.
Dive tourism involving this species is a growing industry and it has been demonstrated that sustainable tourism significantly enhances the economic value of such species in comparison to short-term returns from fishing. Tourism related industries can also negatively impact individual behaviour, entire populations and critical habitat for this species, thus the responsible development of these industries is recommended.
**The Giant Manta had it’s classification revised to list it as ‘Vulnerable’ earlier this month, among with several other species, as the IUCN updated it’s ‘Red List’ for 2011. With now more than 61,900 species reviewed, another big step forward has been made toward developing the IUCN Red List into a true ‘Barometer of Life’
Manta Ray by David Doubilet