Targeted and bycatch fisheries for manta rays have had devastating impacts on populations around the world. Manta rays have arguably become some of the most threatened fish in our seas.
The most significant threat to the giant manta ray is overutilization for commercial purposes. Giant manta rays are both targeted and caught as bycatch in a number of global fisheries throughout their range; however, pressure from the industrial purse seine fisheries and artisanal gillnet fisheries are of particular concern for the survival of the species. Lawson et al. (2016) reported that manta rays have been caught in at least 30 fisheries of varying scales across 25 countries. Estimated take of giant manta rays, particularly in many portions of the Indo-Pacific, frequently exceeds numbers of observed individuals in those areas, and are accompanied by observed declines in sightings and landings of the species. While the majority of these fisheries target manta rays for their meat, there has been an increasing demand for manta ray gill plates for use in Asian medicine, primarily in the Indo-West Pacific.
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