Giant Manta Ray Earns Protection Under International Treaty

The giant manta ray, one of the most beautiful and fascinating marine creatures, will now enjoy strict protecting in international waters thanks to its recent inclusion in the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).

The CMS is an international treaty organization concerned with conserving migratory species and habitats on a global scale. Although the manta ray is protected by several national laws, it often migrates through unregulated waters, putting it at increased risk from overfishing.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which declared giant manta rays as’ vulnerable with an elevated risk of extinction’ earlier this month, intense fishing pressures and growing international consumer demand have caused manta ray populations to decline by 30 percent worldwide, with some regions experiencing an 80 percent decline over the last 75 years.

Unlike blue fin tuna, manta ray isn’t a common menu item in American restaurants. It’s important for the public to understand that while manta rays may be a marine park attraction in the U.S., they are targeted for food and medicinal preparations by other nations.

Similar to sharks, manta rays and their close cousin, mobula rays, are highly valued in Chinese traditional medicine for their gill rakers, cartilaginous projections along the gill arches used for trapping food particles when filter-feeding. Previously targeted by small-scale subsistence fisheries, increasing consumer demand has expanded the gill raker trade into a global commercial industry. According to the IUCN, targeted manta ray fisheries now operate in critical habitats and well-known aggregation sites in the Philippines, Mexico, Mozambique, Madagascar, India, Sri Lanka, Brazil, Tanzania and Indonesia.

“CMS listing is a critical step needed to end the exploitation of mantas and mobulas”, said Peter Knights, Executive Director of WildAid.  “By harnessing the cooperation and concerted efforts of member states, the CMS listing sets the stage for cohesive monitoring and regulation of the gill raker trade”.

WildAid was once of several conservation organizations that assisted Ecuador’s CMS delegates in shaping the proposal to list manta rays. In December, the organization will release the Manta Ray of Hope report to the public. The report provides the most far-reaching documentation ever conducted on the intensive overfishing of mantas and mobulas and the growing pressures that have pushed these animals to the brink of local extinctions.

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Image via iStockphoto


Janine H.
Janine H7 years ago

This is a very sad story. An other animal has to go only because "we" humans do not want to share the world with other life forms, these life forms "we" would not eat (vegetarian food is not a bad idea, or eating with conscience as the so called primitive cultures did and still do, if they still exist. No meat/fish every day).

As little child i thought that rain is when God and the angels cry - because "we" humans have forgotten that we need this "intelligence", someone who could help... if "we" hadn't turned away for many centuries ago...

"Only when the last tree has been cut down; Only when the last river has been poisoned; Only when the last fish has been caught; Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
(Native American proverb)

"We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not yet learned the simple art of living together as brothers." (Martin Luther King)

Jane L.
Jane L7 years ago

It should be noted that Chinese people consume any and everything that one could possibly imagine. With a population topping the #1 highest in the world, the magnitude of what such a small country can do is enormous and can be devestating to another species in smaller proportions relative to that of China. Therefore, the importance of protecting wildlife such as the Giant Manta Ray (as majestic as it is) is that much more.

Christine K.
Christine K.7 years ago

sorry, but that isn't a petition!! A petition is supposed to ask for something that is in the power of the person addressed to do ..

Charlene Rush
Charlene Rush7 years ago

Every once in a while, things go the right way.

Nancy L.
Nancy L7 years ago

This is a good news article for people who love manta rays - why would the person who added the petition use a sad photo like that? We get it - we'll sign it without the awful photo. Now I have that on my mind. Thanks a lot.

Alison Conley
Alison Conley7 years ago

Yay! :)

Debra M.
Debra G7 years ago

Well. Fancy that. Chinese traditional medicine is again a culprit. Hmph. There is absolutely no surprise here. They are not taught truth, the traditionalists are obviously rich, as they can pay for poaching and do so unhindered. You would think that the Chinese would care to make sure that every animal and plant is sustainable into the future, if this is their main method of medication. As a nation, as a government, they sicken me with their absolute consumerism, promoted and paid for by us Westerners. Boycott, people. Make a difference, and reduce, reuse, and recycle. It is one of the best ways to eliminate Chinese greed and nonchalant destruction of all species on this small planet.

Malcolm H.
Malcolm H.7 years ago

I am sick and tired of the distortions both social and physical resulting from the doctrine of ethnic tolerance. THis traditional medacine and its destructive practices deserves no more tolerance than female infanticide or cannibalism. Fact Asian traditional may at best have some placebo effect, at worst it will be responsible for the extinction of many species Tigers, Bears, Manta Rays, Rhinoceros, being but a few. I am prepared to allow that the consumers, and suppliers of these products are ignorant of the danger their superstition poses, but the time has come to make it plain to all, your gobbdelgook is killing animals for no purpose!

Lynn C.
Past Member 7 years ago

It's not just overfishing - it's pollution of the waters they swim in! There is growing concern about the acidification of the seas and that disrupts the whole marine ecology. We're in a bigger mess than we know.

David V.
David V7 years ago

I am glad they are getting protection.......In my opinion I think every animal needs protection against humans. Humans will kill and destroy anything they come in contact with.