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Bangkok, Thailand March 11 2013: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
Focal points from 178 countries around the world meet to vote on a proposal put forward by the Ecuadorian Government to protect manta rays, one of the world’s largest fishes. Manta rays, which were only recognized as two distinct species in 2009, were recently listed as globally threatened species vulnerable to extinction, for the first time by experts from the IUCN Shark Specialist Group in recognition of the increased threat they face around the world.
Manta rays are worth an estimated $73 million USD in direct revenue and $140 million USD to the overall marine tourism industry annually. Despite this fact they are protected in less than a dozen range states worldwide, and as migratory species have no protection within their larger home ranges or in international waters. Many populations of manta rays across the globe are in swift decline as a result of targeted fisheries for their gill rakers, a body part used in Chinese health tonics.