Happy New Year one and all and welcome back or if you are new... WELCOME! Tonight's blog is a quick piece of wonderful news. As of January 1st. 2016 the manta ray is officially protected in Peru! This is very significant as according to a study conducted by Manta Trust, Peru has the largest population of manta rays in the world. Up until this ban, Peru was one of the largest sources of gill rakers being shipped to China.
The government of Peru has made it so that it is illegal to catch a manta ray. If a manta ray is caught as bycatch, it is to be released unharmed. Long story short. Peru has joined neighboring Ecuador and over a dozen other countries that have strict laws in place regarding the fishing of manta rays. The move also closes a big gap that existed for fisherman from Ecuador that may have been going into Peruvian waters to catch mantas. Now both countries have outlawed that practice and if upheld correctly, manta populations can still make a comeback.
You may be asking yourself what will happen to the lives of the fishermen that depended on the mantas? Well the conservation group Wild Aid has a wonderful track record of working with villages in many different countries in an effort to keep everyone on their feet. Often times villages are willing to work with Wild Aid and start to convert from manta fishing to manta eco-tourism. Speaking money here, a live manta is worth far more than a dead one as only the gill rakers hold any value. It is estimated that a single live manta is worth over 1 million dollars! That's just one single manta. The protection of manta rays in Peru is just a start however as the new law does not protect the mobula rays which are closely related to manta rays. Wild Aid will continue to seek the protection these smaller rays need to ensure that they too are in Peru for many many years to come!