Indonesia (particularly Bali) has been known as one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, and now it is considered the world's largest sanctuary for manta rays.
Officials in the country have just found evidence and are persuaded by the fact manta rays are worth more alive than dead. They are now coming to terms with protecting the gentle giants that attract numerous tourists each year. Just last week, the Indonesian government announced these creatures will now be protected from fishing and export. This protection will encompass manta rays within the country's 5.8 million square kilometers of ocean. However, reports say it might take more time, patience, and cooperation on many levels before the prohibition of poaching comes into full effect.
The country is also considered the biggest global shark and ray fishery, so conservationists have gathered information which points out to the government simple economics of the matter in hopes of fully enforcing poaching prevention.
A study published last year in the online journal PLoS One says a manta ray may be worth well up to US$1 million during the whole of its lifetime. This is due to the fact tourists are willing to pay large sums of money just to get a chance to swim with these creatures. Even just a chance to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat, gliding gracefully, looking as if they're flying, is enough to attract numerous people. Along with that, while worth a lot alive, dead they are worth only up to US$40 to US$500. As a result, government officials were surprised and imposed the marine program director of Conservation International Indonesia, Tiene Gunawan, to proclaim the study holds "a very powerful argument." Gunawan added, "I think we should start small and make some kind of pilot for this enforcement."
January 27 was the date regulation was passed. Conservation groups are currently working to teach locals and fishermen the value of keeping manta rays alive, whilst other group sectors in the business, military, and police are encouraged to assist in education.
The director of the country's Marine Conservation Directorate left the statement, "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."