We had four days in Durban, South Africa. A room full of experts and one goal: to draft a global strategy for the conservation of manta and devil rays. What a challenge, yet what an amazing opportunity too!
In June 2014, the IUCN Shark Specialist Group and the Manta Trust, supported by the Save Our Seas Foundation, brought together 20 experts on devil and manta rays to create the basis for a global conservation plan of action. Their workshop followed the Sharks International Conference held in Durban the week before, which made it easier to call in the experts from the field and assemble them at one venue. Insights from projects around the world, ranging from community work in Peru to tagging research in New Zealand, were used to define a vision and three strategic goals.
These goals are to ensure
At the Manta Trust we have made it our mission to strongly support this strategy, making use of our network of projects to achieve the required results. Our work in more than 16 different countries across the globe focuses on advancing the worldwide conservation of manta and devil rays and their habitat by means of robust science and research, raising awareness and providing education, influence and action. As the head of conservation strategy, I have the responsibility to coordinate these activities as well as oversee the Manta Trust’s own strategic plan for the coming years – a very exciting job indeed!
Having started out in the Maldives, the Manta Trust is now active in about 16 countries worldwide promoting the conservation of manta and devil rays and their habitat through research, awareness and education. Three of its current major operations are the Global Mobulid ID Project, which aims to provide a taxonomic, morphological and genetic identification guide to manta and devil rays; the collection of data about ray landings in India, which will inform conservation management in that country; and the Indonesian Manta Project, which works to promote an appreciation of manta and devil rays among local people.