Using light to reduce mobula ray by-catch in Indonesia’s small-scale fisheries

Vidlia Putri Rosady

Mobula rays are migratory species that are vulnerable to extinction. The genus has received international conservation attention, with inclusion under the Convention on Migratory Species in 2014 and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species in October 2016. To date, mobula conservation efforts in Indonesia have focused on target fisheries and illegal wildlife trade. However, bycatch remains a significant threat to wild populations, particularly within Indonesia’s widespread small-scale fisheries. This project will evaluate the feasibility of light-emitting fishing gear modifications to reduce mobula bycatch within Indonesia’s small-scale drifting gillnet fisheries. Our study is structured as a Randomized Control Trial to evaluate the impact of gear modifications. We will use fishery logbooks and port sampling to measure landed volumes and catch-per-unit-effort of bycatch and target species. We will implement an education programme to increase awareness of community members, fishery high school students, and regional Marine and Fishery Officers about: (i) mobula ray conservation and regulatory status; (ii) sustainable seafood markets; and (iii) bycatch reduction technologies. We will evaluate stakeholder perceptions using questionnaires and interviews. We will present project findings at national workshops, and we anticipate that project outcomes will contribute to improved management of small-scale fisheries, and conservation of mobula rays.