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On the 24th December 2015, the Government of Fiji submitted a proposal to list all Mobula rays on Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).
This is exceedingly good news for Mobula rays! If the proposal is successful at CoP17 in Johannesburg, then all 9 species of Mobula rays will have much greater chances of surviving the drastic population declines which are occurring in areas of the Pacific and Indian Oceans.
The trade of these beautiful animals is fuelled by a growing demand for Mobula gill plates which are believed in Chinese Medicine to cure a variety of illnesses, from cancer to chicken pox. These claims are completely un-substantiated, but they are unfortunately driving extremely high market prices for the gills and encouraging a completely unregulated fishing industry. There are currently no catch limits for the species, but this would all change if proposal is successful, with all exports being subject to science-based limits.
Find out more on how CITES works here: https://www.cites.org/eng/disc/how.php
I have personally spent many hours in the water with Mobula rays (Mobula tarapacana in particular) whilst working in the Azores; their majesty and grace has never ceased to amaze me, and I fall under their spell at every encounter. There are few animals with which I have felt such a connection underwater, and I hope that future generations will also have the opportunity to appreciate their beauty.
I wish to congratulate the Fijian government on taking this incredible step towards ensuring their protection, it is truly a great step in the right direction and very pleasing to see that governments are committed towards marine conservation.
The ultimate goal of my photography is to inspire people to dive and help protect the marine world. With this in mind, some of my Mobula ray photos were included within the “Devils in Distress” brochure produced by the Manta Trust, including the ID photo for Mobula tarapacana itself. I hope that the brochure will open people's eyes to the problems facing both manta and mobula rays around the globe, allowing non-divers to see these amazing creatures and compel them to take action.
(Extracts of my photos in the Manta Trust brochure: "Devils in Distress" which is available here.)
Stay tuned for more developments on this important campaign; in the meanwhile check out some more of my Mobula photos here!
Click here for the Manta Trust Press Release and more info on how to support their valuable work.
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