In late February, Indonesian minister of marine affairs and fisheries, Pak Agus Dermawan, signed an agreement enforcing full protection of manta rays in the country. The legislation was supported by various NGOs and scientists, including SOSF funded Sarah Lewis of the Manta Trust. ‘Indonesia has the biggest shark and ray fishery in the world, but the government has come to realise the value of manta rays for tourism. Only a year after they were listed on CITES, the ministry has pushed for their protection. I feel really proud and inspired by Indonesia and think that this move sends an important message to conservationists around the world to not give up on the animals that they are working to protect’.
Indonesia consists of more than 17,000 islands and a diverse range of marine habitats that provide a home to some of the richest shark and ray populations in the world. Both reef and oceanic mantas thrive in Indonesian waters, but until recently, we knew very little about these animals. Sarah Lewis has lived in Indonesia since 2010. Her research provides significant insights into the ecology, biology and movements of these animals, as well as the manta fishing industry in the country.
Despite being a top manta tourism destination, Indonesia was one of the largest manta fishing nations. Sarah has been there since 2010 learning about these vulnerable rays and raising awareness about their plight.