Protect Manta and Mobula Rays from Devastating Overfishing

Protect Manta Rays from Unsustainable Gill Trade

Target: Chen Jianhua, Mayor of Guangzhou, China

Goal: Discourage the consumption of ray gills in Guangzhou, China contributing to the dramatic decline of mobula and manta ray populations

A sharp increase in the consumption of manta and mobula ray gills is threatening the species’ survival, according to a report by wildlife conservation group WildAid. The gills—used in the “health tonic” Peng Yu Sai—are often the only body part harvested from the rays. An estimated 99% of the world’s entire supply of the tonic is consumed in Guangzhou, China. WildAid’s report details a dramatic increase in ray overfishing over the past few years, driven by a rise in the market value of their gills.

As if the endangerment of these beautiful species weren’t enough reason to address the issue, the report also found high concentrations of heavy metals present in gill samples: over 20 times the permissible level of arsenic, three times the level of cadmium and a significant presence of mercury and lead.

The report details yet more disturbing findings: 99% of the tonic’s consumers were unaware of the presence of heavy metals; less than half of consumers were even aware that the product contained manta and mobula ray gills; and the majority would gladly stop buying the product after hearing of the endangered status of its source, the rays. No scientific evidence has ever proven Peng Yu Sai to be beneficial to health.

It is time to stop the killing of manta and mobula rays to make this overpriced, dangerous product. WildAid is already working with the Chinese government and traditional Chinese medicine practitioners to inform the public about this industry; we must also do our part. Persuade the mayor of Guangzhou to raise awareness of the plight of rays around the world and to discourage the consumption of this dangerous product.


Dear Mayor Chen Jianhua,

I write to bring to your attention the terrible manta and mobula ray gill trade in Guangzhou. Over 99% of the world’s ray gills are consumed in Guangzhou as part of a tonic called Peng Yu Sai. This tonic contains excessive levels of arsenic and cadmium, creating a potential health hazard for consumers. Not only this, but most people are unaware that the world’s ray populations are endangered and this industry is contributing hugely to their decline, with dramatic rises in ray deaths over the past few years. Indeed, the majority of consumers are unaware that the tonic actually contains ray gills!

I ask you to use your position in office to make the public aware of the facts about Peng Yu Sai. Nearly all of the people surveyed were unaware that there are excessive amounts of heavy metals present in the tonic, and most said they would gladly stop drinking Peng Yu Sai now that they understand the threat it poses to rays around the world.

With no proven scientific benefits, an increasing market price and detrimental effects on both humans and the world’s ray population, consumption of Peng Yu Sai must be stopped. It serves only to profit a small number of people at a dangerous cost. Please, use your influence to raise awareness in Guangzhou by alerting the public as to why Peng Yu Sai should be avoided.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Moesmand via Wikimedia Commons

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