Indonesia announces shark, manta ray sanctuary

Feb 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: New study charts the global invasion of crop pests

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US backs adding teeth to global shark protection

Jan 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.

EU agrees crack down on shark finning

Mar 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.

The shark, a predator turned prey

Nov 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 finally ends shark finning

Nov 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.

Recommended for you

Human traffic threatens urban forests

1 hour ago

A study investigating the affect of recreational trails in endangered urban forests has found that their expansiveness and unmethodical planning is increasing fragmentation and impacting biodiversity.

New study charts the global invasion of crop pests

16 hours ago

Many of the world's most important crop-producing countries will be fully saturated with pests by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a new study led by the University of Exeter.

User comments : 0