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September 2013    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 28, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Mantas Are More Valuable Alive than Dead

from the September, 2013 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Like sharks, manta rays too are under threat. They're being hunted by fishermen for their gill plates, highly desired in Asia as a tonic for many medical conditions. A 2011 study by the Manta Ray of Hope Project estimated the value of this market at $11.3 million annually. But a recent study reported in PLOS One states that manta ray-watching tourism, if managed properly, can be a far better economic alternative in countries where the animals are big attractions.

Three researchers from the conservation nonprofits WildAid, Shark Savers and the Manta Trust reviewed 23 countries that have manta-ray dive and snorkel operations, then estimated that direct revenue to the dive operators is at least $73 million annually. Direct economic impact (hotel rooms, restaurant meals, etc.) on those tourist regions is $140 million annually. Ten countries account for 93 percent of that revenue estimate -- Japan, Indonesia, the Maldives, Mozambique, Thailand, Australia, Mexico, the U.S., Micronesia and Palau....


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