The Manta's are jumping for Joy everywhere!
On Friday the government of Indonesia declared the entire 5.8 million square kilometers of the Archipelago as a Manta Ray Sanctuary. This new protection for these gentle giants of the marine world is a great win for conservation and diving tourism.
Recognising that the recent CITES listing will work to limit the trade, and that the benefits of Manta Ray tourism mean they are more valuable alive, than dead, the government has not only made a smart decision for conservation, but also a wise economic choice for tourism.
“Manta’s are loved by all, because of their gentle and curious nature. There are few wildlife experiences that equate to swimming with a manta ray in the ocean!”
“Diving and Snorkelling with manta rays is our most popular and highly requested product, and plays a big role in supporting the diving industry here, as well as the livelihoods of local tourism boat operators. Many of these local operators have converted from fisheries to serve the tourism market.”
“Manta watching tourism is worth an estimated US$15 million to Indonesia’s economy every year. The chance to see a manta ray draws divers and snorkelers from around the world,” said MantaWatch director Andrew Harvey. “I applaud the Goverments visionary leadership, this is a great example of how governments and the diving industry can work together to achieve positive impacts for the environment and the economy.”
Manta rays are slow to mature and reproduce, meaning that they are very vulnerable to over fishing. The recent CITES listing confirmed that the scientific basis for their protection was valid, and that action is needed to prevent their decline.
A lot of work still needs to be done to make the newly enacted law effective and accepted throughout the archipelago. Conservation groups will work to teach fishermen, business’s and enforcement officials about the benefits of the new law.