Impacts, alternative solutions and awareness of mobula fisheries in Indonesia

Betty Laglbauer & Anindita Rustandi

Great concern has been raised regarding the vulnerability of mobula rays to overfishing in Indonesia, due to the increasing demand for mobulid gill rakers in the Chinese medicine market. Although mantas benefit from a large sanctuary in the region, mobulas have only recently been added to the Convention on Migratory Species, presently requiring urgent collaborative efforts to implement protection measures on a local scale. Specifically, work towards habitat conservation, mitigating obstacles to the migration and controlling fisheries of mobulas is now required. Yet crucial information on the demography and habitat use of mobula species is still lacking. Stakeholders are often unaware of the difference between mobulas and mantas (due to phenotypic similarities) and of where these animals alive. This project will combine fishing market surveys, citizen science (with dive centres) and interviews to: (1) estimate the extinction risk of mobula species; (2) describe their habitat use (abundance and main aggregation areas); and (3) implement a conservation awareness program to promote understanding of the problem while exploring potential solutions. Implementation of conservation measures on a local and global scale will be supported by producing a map of main aggregation sites, a photographic database, educational material, and recommendations for governmental institutions.