Target: Peruvian Minister of the Environment Manuel Pulgar-Vidal Otárola
Goal: Applaud new resolution to protect giant manta rays in Peruvian waters.
The Peruvian government has banned manta ray fishing and passed a law requiring all fishermen to release accidentally caught mantas back into the ocean. The resolution was passed on December 31, 2015 and means that Peru has joined 12 other countries in creating legal protections for manta rays. Peru and its waters are home to the largest known giant manta ray population in the world.
Overfishing has led certain regional populations of manta rays to decline by 80 percent over the last 75 years. Populations are slow to recover as giant mantas only reproduce every two to five years. Apart from accidentally becoming by-catch in fishermen’s nets, they are also targeted for their meat and gill plates. The gill plates are considered a delicacy in China, where they are used in traditional medicine to treat cancer, blood circulation problems, chickenpox and other ailments, even though there is no scientific evidence that they have an effect. It is estimated that the trade in these gill plates is worth $30 million a year.
This move to protect these magnificent creatures is welcomed, but there is more to be done. For example, the protections don’t extend to mobula rays, which are also in decline, and other fisheries such as India and Sri Lanka still continue to threaten manta ray populations. Applaud these new regulations to protect and improve the survival chances of giant manta rays in Peruvian waters as an example for the rest of the world.
Dear Minister Pulgar-Vidal Otárola,
The December 31 decision to ban giant manta ray fishing in Peru and require the return of accidentally caught mantas to the ocean should be applauded. These regulations have effectively closed one of the largest manta ray fisheries in the world, and have dealt a blow to the trade of manta meat and gill plates. Combined with similar protections in Ecuador, they will allow for the migration paths of these giant manta rays to remain safe, and hopefully with time they can reproduce and bring their numbers up.
Your commitment to protecting these animals in their natural environment should prove an example for other countries, especially those where giant manta rays are in danger of being hunted to extinction. I applaud your decision to ban giant manta ray fishing.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Arturo de Frias Marques