Wednesday, 18 January 2012
Monday, 16 January 2012
Juvenile scalloped hammerhead sharks sold at the Nadi market last year. Picture: HELEN SYKES
The Manta Ray of Hope Project, a joint effort of two conservation organizations, Shark Savers and WildAid, released a comprehensive report documenting worldwide manta and mobula declines due to the trade in their gills.The report, entitled "Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays" provides the most far-reaching research ever conducted into both the intensive overfishing of mantas and mobulas as well as the trade in their gill rakers that are driving mantas and mobulas to the point of population collapse.
|Manta Ray of Hope / Shark Savers / WildAid|
The destruction of ray populations is the result of demand for their gill rakers, with an estimated market value of $11 million annually. That is a fraction of the value of manta and mobula ray tourism, which is estimated at over $100 million per year, globally.
Shawn Heinrichs, Manta Ray of Hope team leader, explains, "While the gills are valuable for this trade, it is also robbing local economies and the environment of one of the most charismatic creatures in the ocean that could draw millions of dollars each year for those communities."
Lead investigator Paul Hilton added, "We first came across manta and mobula ray gills in Asian markets several years ago and followed the trail to the dried seafood markets of Southern China. It's sad to see these animals follow the same path to extinction as sharks."
|Manta Ray of Hope / Shark Savers / WildAid|
Manta and mobula ray populations are severely impacted by any kind of targeted fishing because they have extremely limited reproductive biology. These rays can take ten or more years to reach sexual maturity and typically produce only one pup every two to three years. In comparison, even the Great White shark which is listed under CITES Appendix II and widely considered to be one of the world's most vulnerable species, may produce as many pups in one litter as a manta ray does over its entire lifetime.
As a result, every area with active fisheries directed against manta and mobula rays reports devastating and rapid declines in populations of these rays. In certain regions, such as the Sea of Cortez, the oceanic manta ray (M. birostris) has largely disappeared. The aggressive trade in gill rakers continues in several of the key range states for mobulids with the largest landings documented in Sri Lanka, India, and Indonesia.
"If action is not taken quickly, manta and mobula rays will likely face regional extinctions because of unregulated fisheries", said Michael Skoletsky, Executive Director of Shark Savers. "Anyone who has gone diving with mantas knows them to be intelligent, graceful, and engaging animals. It would be a tragedy to lose them."
Executive Director of WildAid, Peter Knights, adds that "Mantas can generate tens of millions of dollars of long term sustainable tourism revenue for less wealthy nations, or for a few million we can let them go extinct for an obscure and dubious folk cure. The economics and the moral imperative are clear - we need an immediate moratorium on gill raker trade and measures for complete protection to some populations and to reduce fishing pressure for others."
Manta Ray of Hope / Shark Savers / WildAid
The gills of manta and mobula rays are dried and boiled for preparation as a health tonic that is purported to treat a wide range of ailments. Yet the report's researchers did not find the gill raker remedy listed in the official Traditional Chinese Medicine manual. However, that has not prevented its use as a pseudo-medicinal tonic, driven by direct marketing to consumers by importers in Guangzhou, China, the primary destination for this trade.
The report, Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays highlights what is known about the remarkable biology and ecology of manta and mobula rays, explains the extreme threats they face, describes the fisheries and trade that target these rays, and offers some solutions via alternative, non-consumptive uses for communities to profit from them, sustainably. The information provided in the report will enable decision-makers to move swiftly in enacting critical protections for manta and mobula rays.
Manta Ray of Hope received support from the Silvercrest Foundation, Hrothgar Investments Ltd, and private donors.Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays received additional guidance and data from many of the foremost manta researchers and scientists throughout the world.
About Shark Savers: Shark Savers was founded in 2007 by six long-time divers driven by a shared passion - to save the world's dwindling shark and ray populations. Today, more than 20,000 members from 99 nations share that passion. Focusing on action and results, Shark Savers programs result in saving the lives of sharks and rays. By leveraging professional experience and expertise, Shark Savers brings this important issue to the masses in many compelling forms, motivating people to stop consuming sharks and shark fin soup, and working for the creation of shark sanctuaries and other protections. For more information, please visit www.sharksavers.org
About WildAid: WildAid focuses on addressing the human threat to wildlife. Our comprehensive approach includes public awareness campaigns and educational initiatives to reduce consumer demand for wildlife products, and working with communities to support and enforce key protected habitats around the world. For more information, please visit www.wildaid.org.
About Manta Ray of Hope Project: The Manta Ray of Hope Project is a joint initiative that includes top field investigators, leadings scientists and researchers, all working together to further the conservation of manta and mobula rays. The project was founded by Shark Savers and WildAid, with support from the Silvercrest Foundation, Hrothgar Investments, and private donors. Manta Ray of Hope is developing global conservation campaigns based on sound science, including:
- Manta Ray of Hope: The Global Threat to Manta and Mobula Rays, a comprehensive study of the destructive fishing and consumption of Mobulids.
- Establishment of trade bans and sanctuaries.
- Education and awareness campaigns for consumers.
- Ecotourism development in fishing communities.
Friday, 6 January 2012
Calling all eco-conscious couples – how would you like a honeymoon in a certified eco-resort in stunning Fiji?
By making your wedding shark-free, you can show respect to both your guests and our oceans as well as earning the opportunity to win a fabulous prize!
Enter the Happy Hearts Love Sharks - Hong Kong wedding contest now....
*Winners must pay taxes and surcharges for flights. Availability for the grand prize flights and accommodation package will be subject to blackout dates to be confirmed in the winner’s Grand Diamond Prize confirmation letter.
The Happy Hearts Love Sharks Wedding Contest
The Happy Hearts Love Sharks wedding contest was originally created in 2009 by Canadian shark conservation group Shark Truth.
Originally run purely as a Facebook competition to reward couples who had already held a shark fin free wedding, Shark Truth had 16 couples making their pledge public in the first year and 27 couples in the second – with a combined total of 10,000 bowls of shark fin soup prevented from being served.
In 2011, Shark Truth gave HK Shark Foundation exclusive rights to launch a Hong Kong version of the contest.
Along with partners EcoVision Asia, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Humane Society International, HKSF developed a new vision for the contest, which included extending its reach beyond purely the Facebook community, to include interested couples in China, and also targetting couples in the planning stages of their weddings so that we might influence those who had not previously considered having a shark-free wedding.
When our vision attracted the support of the sophisticated high society magazine Hong Kong Tatler and of the popular bridal publication Darizi, as well as a sea of awesome prize sponsorships, we knew we had something special to offer. And so the Hong Kong edition of Happy Hearts Love Sharks was born…
Pledge to make your wedding shark-free and enter the contest now!
By making your wedding shark-free, you can help keep our oceans in harmony.
Humans need healthy oceans
Our oceans are a precious natural resource that should be conserved for future generations. They are a valuable source of food and livelihoods and play an important role in regulating our climate (about half of the oxygen we breathe every day is generated through the photosynthesis of tiny oceanic organisms called marine phytoplanktons!).
Healthy oceans need healthy shark populations
Sharks play a vital role in maintaining the delicate balance of our marine ecosystems. As apex predators, sharks sit at the top of the marine food chain and help regulate the abundance and diversity of the marine life beneath them. Declining shark populations have a direct impact on the health of our oceans.
Sharks need people to say NO to shark fin!
Unsustainable demand for the Chinese delicacy Shark Fin Soup is causing a crisis in our oceans. The fins of up to 73 million sharks are thought to be traded each year – that’s 200,000 sharks per day! Along with habitat destruction, such massive overfishing has caused the dramatic decline of many shark populations, with some dwindling by up to 90%. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), around one third of all shark species are now threatened or near threatened with extinction. Extinction is forever so, please, make your wedding shark-free now.
For more information, please visit the FAQs on the HK Shark Foundation’s website.
Why say NO to shark fin
Shark-free weddings are sophisticated and environmentally conscious and, by serving a suitable alternative to shark fin soup, you can both respect your guests and our oceans.
Calling all sophisticated bridal couples! By making your wedding shark-free, you can show respect to both your guests and our oceans as well as earning the opportunity to win a fabulous prize! Enter the Happy Hearts Love Sharks - Hong Kong wedding contest now....