photo credit Times Online
Rays would be an easy target for fisherman, as they swim slowly close to the surface and are easily visible. They seem to be quite inquisitive as well, which could potentially be a downfall.
"So far, they have escaped commercial exploitation and have been hunted only by small numbers of subsistence fishermen, who traditionally catch them using harpoons. But the growing demand for the manta ray (Manta birostris) and its close cousin the devil ray (of the Mobula genus) is turning ray fishing into an export operation. In the eastern Indonesian port of Lamakera, catches of manta have rocketed from a few hundred to about 1,500 a year."
The fins are apparently being used in low-grade shark fin soup as a filler. The gills are also being used in traditional Chinese medicines. (An aside; Pardon me if I'm wrong, and no disrespect whatsoever to anyone of Chinese or Asian descent...but WHY do all these traditional medicines come from ENDANGERED OR VULNERABLE SPECIES?!)
"Eli Michael, of the Manta Pacific Research Foundation, said Hawaii is poised to outlaw catching or killing mantas. Until now, getting caught in nets intended for other fish has been the biggest threat to rays, listed as “near threatened” on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List."
Hawaii is just awesome right now, leading the way for threatened marine species’ protection from fishing. I'm seriously loving me some Hawaii right now. I hope other states/nations catch on!
On the other hand, Britain is sucking:
"The market for shark fin soup is growing at about 5 per cent a year, while shark populations are crashing: 80 per cent of Atlantic sharks have been lost in the past 15 years, according to the trust. Britain is one of only five EU member states that still allows the removal of shark fins at sea. More than 80 tonnes of fins are landed in Britain every year."
Shame on you, Britain. Enough with the fish and chips, okay? Take it down a notch. Or at least choose a sustainable species!!
Full article here (Times Online)