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Mantas

WildAid Trains Guangzhou Customs to Fight Smuggling

Over the past three decades, China’s seafood consumption has more than tripled, surpassing both Japan and the United States as the world’s largest consumer, producer and importer/exporter of fish and shellfish. High demand among a growing middle class also has fueled illegal fishing and smuggling of many protected marine species.

Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong province in southern China, is a key port for seafood shipments, and a primary market for such products as manta ray gill rakers and shark fin. Local customs officers are tasked with inspecting a high volume of shipments at ports as well as surveilling markets for illegal products. To help them improve detections of illegal wildlife species, WildAid, the Wildlife Conservation Society and Guangdong Fisheries Law Enforcement recently co-hosted a training for 80 customs and enforcement officers in Guangzhou.

The main purpose of this training was to help agents to quickly identify products from eight protected species, including manta gill rakers (known as peng yu sai), shark fin and the swim bladder of the totoaba — a critically endangered fish indigenous to Mexico’s Sea of Cortez.  The totoaba swim bladders are smuggled from Mexico.  

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Manta Rays: Curious and Vulnerable Giants of the Sea

"In all my years of filming and interacting with manta rays, I have never witnessed such an extraordinary interaction between a manta ray and a swimmer. The power and charisma of this giant manta was truly humbling!" — Shawn Heinrichs, WildAid

This month, WildAid's Shawn Heinrichs and Josh Stewart of Manta Trust conducted a research and filming expedition to Peru, working closely with our partner Planeta Océano with support from Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund. Peru and Ecuador waters are home to one of the most significant populations Oceanic mantas in the eastern Pacific. Both Peru and Ecuador are parties to Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) that now lists both manta and mobula rays for protection. Whereas Ecuador has implemented national regulations protecting mantas and mobulas, just south of their border, Peru has yet to adopt similar protections.

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Peng Yu Sai: A Toxic Health Tonic

Last year, WildAid reported that an estimated 150,000 manta and mobula rays were killed in 2013 so their gill rakers could be sold as part of a growing trade, mostly at the markets of Guangzhou, China.

Known as peng yu sai, the gill rakers — cartilage filaments used to filter food from the water column — are not part of Traditional Chinese Medicine, but they are used in the preparation of a soup-like "health tonic." Merchants advertise a wide range of unproven health benefits and claim that peng yu sai can treat everything from skin rashes to cancer.

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Sharks and Manta Protection Kicks In

Protection under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) kicks in this week for five more shark species and two manta ray species. Any trade in oceanic whitetip shark, porbeagle, scalloped hammerhead shark, smooth hammerhead shark, great hammerhead shark, and manta ray products is now to be restricted via national regulations to “avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.” The designation was passed at the CITES’ 16th Conference of the Parties in Bangkok, Thailand in March of 2013 and the listings go into effect this Sunday, September 14.

WildAid Launches Campaign to Reduce Consumption of Manta Ray Gills in China

Indonesia Announces the World's Largest Manta Sanctuary

The Manta Trust, WildAid, Blue Sphere Media, The Indonesian Manta Project and Save Our Seas are today celebrating the signing of a new regulation creating the world’s largest manta sanctuary, encompassing a massive 6 million square kilometers of ocean, enforcing full protection for Oceanic and Reef Manta Rays (Manta birostris and Manta alfredi) in Indonesia. The Minister of Marine Affairs and Fisheries, Pak Agus Dermawan, signed the agreement in Jakarta; the event was attended by the Ministry of Tourism, national and international NGOs as well as global media.

Manta Rays and Sharks Receive International Protection

Delegates to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) have taken the significant step of voting to protect two manta ray and five shark species at the 16th Conference of the Parties in Bangkok, Thailand this past week. Sharks have been heavily targeted for their fins and mantas for their gills, despite the species’ proven value to ocean ecosystem health and to global ecotourism.

鬼蝠魟

鬼蝠魟(Manta)被國際自然保護聯盟(IUCN)列為「易危」物種, 其魚鰓雖未被醫學證實具治療藥效,但卻被大眾視作健康補品,市場對魔鬼魟鰓的需求亦不斷上升。 最新數據顯示,該物種正受生存威脅,加上人類對其食用需求快速增長,保護鬼蝠魟及其近親蝠鱝(Mobula ray)成當務之急。

鯊魚及鬼蝠魟繁殖期長,最新數據更顯示,鬼蝠魟的繁殖速度較以往推算的更慢,估計其最長生命週期的繁殖能力只有5至15代。這極低的繁殖能力反映,鬼蝠魟及蝠鱝較早前預計更為脆弱,必須立即採取保護行動,以免數量持續減少。