Thursday 20 November 2014

Manta Ray parts worth $671 million to the tourist industry have been intercepted in Bali

The  Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of the Republic of Indonesia and the WCS (Wildlife
Conservation Society’s) Wildlife Crimes Unit have made their largest seizure of manta ray gills and
arrested one person. The 103kg of gill plates represented 85 manta rays and each was worth $7.8 million to the Indonesian dive industry over its lifetime.

The raid took place on 7th November when officials, working on part of a larger investigation, at a house near to the  Pengambengan Negara fisheries landing area in Bali.

The latest raid follows on from follows three arrests earlier this month and in October involving illegal trade of manta ray meat and gill plates, sawfish snouts, and sea turtle meat.

While the financial loss of the 85 rays to the fisheries industry has been put at $20,000 by the Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries it is the loss to the tourism industry that really shows the devastation that poachers and illegal fisheries are having on the country.

The 103 kg of gill plates is thought to have come from about 85 individual manta rays. Each manta ray would normally live for 40 years in the wild and are a major tourist draw bringing in divers from across the world to swim with these amazing fish.

Recent studies have shown that each manta ray of Indonesia brings in just under $200,000 a year in tourist income or about $7.9 million over it’s 40 year lifetime. To discover the equivalent of 85 dead manta rays in one raid is a major blow to the industry.

With the value of live manta rays being many more time that of a dead manta ray – the gill plates fetch between $250 and $500 a kilo in the markets of China – authorities need to get serious in tackling the trade.

The law in Indonesia was changed in February this year to make rays protected throughout its territorial waters. The waters of Indonesia at 6 million sq. kilometres is now the largest safe haven for rays in the World.

Sentencing for those caught trading or catching manta rays have also been increased recently. Those caught now face up to 6 years in prison with a fine of up to $125,000.

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