our achievements through research
Our Maldivian Manta Ray Project played a key role in gaining protection for manta rays in the Republic of Maldives.
Data it collected identified an increase in pressure and threats to mantas from unrestricted tourism growth and local development, and led to the government declaring Hanifaru Bay a Marine Protected Area in 2009. Hanifaru Bay in Baa Atoll is an important aggregation site for reef manta rays and whale sharks.
We contributed critical data and expertise for the re-assessment to “Vulnerable”status of both species of manta on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2011.
Following this re-assessment, our collaborative efforts with researchers and other NGOs have seen all mobulid species granted legally-binding international protection in the trade of products sourced from their body parts, under Appendix II of CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).
Established a genetics team.
We have established a genetics team who are working to collate a comprehensive library of Mobulid tissue samples from all species of Mobulid ray in order to develop a global Mobulid genetic ID kit. In 2018 our genetics Project Leader, Jane Hosegood, published a paper showing robust evidence for an undescribed species of manta ray in the Gulf of Mexico, and for the resurrection of a recently synonymised species, M. eregoodootenkee.
Submitted 'Concerted Actions' proposal to CMS to address community transitions away from mobulid fisheries.
In 2017 the ‘Concerted Actions’ proposal we submitted to the Convention on Migratory Species CoP12 was accepted, with support from five countries (Fiji, Ecuador, India, the EU and the Philippines). It addressed the community transition and livelihood challenges that result from a change in mobulid trade legislation and fishery management.
Published a collaborative paper on the priorities of future mobulid research.
In 2018 we published a paper designed to stimulate and focus future research by identifying pressing knowledge gaps that must be filled to facilitate improved science-based management of mobulids. To develop “Research Priorities to Support Effective Manta and Devil Ray Conservation” we assembled thirty leaders and emerging experts in the fields of mobulid biology, ecology, and conservation.
our achievements with EDUCATION
Driven implementation workshops to aid governments enforce legislation against the gill plate trade.
We have organised and/or participated in policy-implementation workshops in all key mobulid fishing countries (Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Peru) to support enforcement and monitoring of the gill plate trade.
Launched multi-media initiative to support and increase sustainable manta tourism.
In 2017 we launched a campaign to educate tourists and operators about “How to Swim with Manta Rays”. The initiative includes the creation of a multimedia tool kit based on the Manta Trust’s research-backed Code of Conduct. This continually growing kit includes a short film, instructions for staff, and a 10- Step Guide, and is designed to help operators and tourists alike minimise the impact their interactions have on the mantas they encounter. We developed a dedicated website for this project (www.swimwithmantas.org), making the information and media tools freely available in multiple languages.
Published world's first book on manta rays.
Manta Trust co-founders Dr Guy Stevens, marine biologist, and Thomas P. Peschak, award-winning National Geographic photographer, published the world’s first book on manta rays in 2017. ‘MANTA Secret Life of Devil Rays’ combines ground-breaking photography with the latest scientific research from our projects around the globe.
Published a comprehensive field guide to all mobulid species.
In 2018 we published the “Guide to the Manta and Devil Rays of the World” by Stevens, Fernando, Dando and Notarbartolo di Sciara. This comprehensive field guide is an essential resource for fisheries management, international trade enforcement, and for anyone wanting to become involved in the ongoing efforts to research and conserve mobulids.
Expanded our Marine Education Programme throughout the Maldives.
Our Marine Education Programme in the Maldives has been working with schools and local communities since 2015. Over 100 students across four atolls have completed the programme so far. It aims to research the effectiveness of marine education for conservation purposes, increase youth participation in marine activities and increase marine awareness across the wider Maldivian community.
our achievements by collaborating
Helped create & implement a management plan for Hanifaru Bay Marine Protected Area in the Maldives.
Following the declaration of Hanifaru Bay as a Marine Protected Area (MPA) in 2009, the Maldivian Manta Ray Project assisted the Ministry of Environment in the creation of a management plan. The plan’s purpose was to sustainably control tourism, and minimise the impact of visitors on the reef mantas that aggregate in the MPA to feed. This was approved by the central government in 2011 and came into full effect in 2012.
Joined forces with several groups to secure international protective legislation for mobulid rays.
Our work with several collaborating groups has resulted in the successful adoption of all mobulid species under the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) Appendix I & II. The Manta Trust is now an official collaborating partner to the CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks.
Helped gain national protection for mantas in key mobulid fishing nations.
Our campaigning and work with local communities, in collaboration with other NGOs such as WildAid and Planeta Océano, has helped manta rays to gain national protection in regions with some of the world’s largest mobulid fisheries. In 2014 Indonesia created the world’s largest manta sanctuary in its waters, and in 2016, Peru awarded national protection to manta rays and in 2018 Thailand added all six mobulid species found in Thai waters to the Thailand national protected list making it illegal to kill, trade or possess any of these species.
Worked with partners to create 'Best Practice Guidelines for Shark & Ray Tourism'.
We initiated a collaborative project with WWF and Project AWARE to develop ‘Best Practice Guidelines for Shark and Ray Tourism’, in collaboration with a scientific advisory group and industry experts. This includes a large outreach and education component towards dive operators, governments and the local community. The guide was launched in early 2017, and is designed to help the public create their own Tourism Guidelines that are specific to their corner of the ocean, and the shark and ray species that inhabit it.
Created a ‘Global Strategy & Action Plan’ for the long term survival of mobulids.
In 2018 we created a Global Strategy & Action Plan which outlines what actions need to be taken to ensure the long-term survival of mobulid rays. Whilst global in scope, the strategy highlights how the Manta Trust fits into it all, and the areas where we believe we can be most effective as part of the wider conservation effort.