Conservation through Research, Awareness and Education

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At its 16th meeting in March 2013, the Conference of the Parties to CITES decided to include five shark species and all manta rays in Appendix II. While these species are not necessarily threatened with extinction, international trade in them is carefully regulated and monitored to ensure legality and to avoid utilisation incompatible with their survival in the wild. These regulations came into place on the 14th of September 2014. Learn more from the video below:

In order to ensure that international trade of CITES listed aquatic species are legal, sustainable and traceable, the Scientific Authority of the State of export has to prepare a “non-detriment findings” (NDFs) to ensure that “such export will not be detrimental to the survival of that species”. The Management Authority of the exporting State will only issue a CITES Export Permit after it has advised that the specimens were legally acquired and an NDF has been made by the Scientific Authority. The development of an NDF should ideally take place before any listed shark species destined to be exported or introduced from the sea has been fished and landed.

In order to assist Scientific Authorities with the production of NDFs for manta rays, the Manta Trust has taken the initiative to develop two documents containing default data based on current international research on both manta species:

1) CITES NDF Default Data for Manta birostris (oceanic manta ray) – v4_14th_October_2014

2) CITES NDF Default Data for Manta alfredi (reef manta ray) – v4_14th_October_2014

Please note that the intrinsic biological characteristics provided in the two PDFs are derived from international standardised data for both Manta birostris and Manta alfredi. They may not reflect local stock characteristics. Wherever possible, verified biological data for local stocks should be utilised. We also advise, where data is lacking, that Scientific Authorities adopt a precautionary approach.


Reef Manta Ray Dorsal Markings 3, Unknown Location © Guy Stevens, Manta Trust (E) WM

A reef manta ray, Manta alfredi.

Oceanic Manta Ray Spot Patterns, Fuvamullah Atoll, Maldives © Guy Stevens, Manta Trust (E) WM

An oceanic manta ray, Manta birostris.


NDF guidance documents, worksheets and other useful documents are available on the Shark and Manta Ray Portal of the CITES webpage!

If any of the above documents are not available or you require additional information, please email us at:

© 2017 Manta Trust