Indonesia declares the Largest Wild Manta Ray Sanctuary
Lately, it seems like Indonesia is all about nature, constantly preserving and taking measures to assure the survival of wildlife.
This time, the country has announced that all of its exclusive economic zone will be a safe haven for manta rays. If you’re wondering how large that is, Indonesia’s EEZ stretches for approximately 2.3 million square miles (more than 6.7 million square kilometers).
Only after a study published by the journal PLoS One did Indonesian officials realize thate mantas are more valuable alive than dead. A report stated that a single manta ray is worth $1 million in tourism revenue over its lifetime.
Only then, after seeing those numbers compared to the 40-200 bucks gained from a dead manta ray, has the government teamed up with private companies to declare its sea as the largest manta ray sanctuary in the world.
Indonesia has some of the largest manta ray fisheries in the world, but also has manta ray watching as a main tourist attraction. Revenue comparisons are what led legislators to opt for the approval of the new legislation.
“Indonesia now has the second largest manta ray tourism industry in the world with an estimated annual value of over US$15 million,” said Agus Dermawan, director of the ministry’s Marine Conservation Directorate. “Given the huge area of reefs and islands in our country, if managed properly, Indonesia could become the top manta tourism destination on the planet,” he added.
Reef and oceanic manta rays that roam Indonesian waters are still vulnerable, and unfortunately, population numbers are declining. The entities involved have stressed this is only the beginning and the campaign to ban manta killing will continue.