Indonesia announces shark, manta ray sanctuary

February 20, 2013
An undated photograph of a shark swimming off Gansbaai, about 180 kms from Cape Town. Indonesia has announced a new shark and manta ray sanctuary, the first to protect the species in the rich marine ecosystem of the Coral Triangle, known as the "Amazon of the ocean".

Indonesia has announced a new shark and manta ray sanctuary, the first to protect the species in the rich marine ecosystem of the Coral Triangle, known as the "Amazon of the ocean".

Environmentalists Wednesday welcomed the creation of the 46,000-square-kilometre (18,000-square-mile) protection zone, in an area at risk from both overfishing and climate change.

The local government in Raja Ampat on the western tip of New Guinea island announced the move this week, issuing local regulations to ban the finning and fishing of sharks in the area, a tourist destination popular with divers.

Rizal Algamar, Indonesia director of the Nature Conservancy, described the regulations in a joint statement with Conservation International as a "breakthrough in policy".

"Scientific evidence states that the value of live sharks and manta rays far outweighs the one-time profit of dead sharks and manta rays, benefiting a growing world-class and increasingly popular marine tourism and dive destination," he said.

Scientists have warned the Coral Triangle, which spreads across a vast area of Southeast Asia's waters, is under threat, with heat-trapping blamed for creating acidic seas hostile to much marine life.

Overfishing has also been a problem, but the sanctuary will support existing no-take zones that have helped shark numbers slowly recover.

"Sharks in particular play an important role, as at the top of the food chain, maintaining fisheries and ecosystem health," the statement said.

The sanctuary is also expected to prevent a drop in manta ray numbers, with the species' gills increasingly used in Asian medicines.

are in a rapid and steep decline worldwide, facing intense pressure from fishing and in high demand for .

Up to 73 million sharks are killed annually, mostly for their fins, the statement said. As a result, many have suffered declines greater than 75 percent and in some species up to 90 percent or more.

Indonesia ranks as the world's largest exporter of sharks and rays.

Explore further: The shark, a predator turned prey

Related Stories

The shark, a predator turned prey

November 25, 2011

Sharks may strike terror among swimmers at the beach but the predators are increasingly ending up as prey, served up in fish-and-chips shops, sparking concern among environmentalists.

EU agrees crack down on shark finning

March 19, 2012

The European Union endorsed tighter shark fishing rules on Monday to ensure fishermen respect a ban on slicing off the fins of their catches and throwing the live body overboard to drown.

EU finally ends shark finning

November 22, 2012

The European parliament on Thursday called a definitive halt to shark finning, the long contested practice of fishermen slicing off fins and throwing the live body overboard to drown.

US backs adding teeth to global shark protection

January 25, 2013

The United States said Friday it would support proposals to curb the trade of five shark species and manta rays, whose numbers are declining because of demand for fins and gills.

Recommended for you

Fecal mimicry found in seeds that fool dung beetles

October 6, 2015

(—A team of researchers with the University of Cape Town and the University of KwaZulu-Natal, both in South Africa, has found an example of a seed from a plant using mimicry to fool a beetle. In their paper published ...

A better way to read the genome

October 9, 2015

UConn researchers have sequenced the RNA of the most complicated gene known in nature, using a hand-held sequencer no bigger than a cell phone.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.