Target: Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena
Goal: Ban the fishing of manta and mobula rays to save them from extinction.
Manta and mobula rays, intelligent fish known for their large size and gentle nature, are increasingly being killed solely for their gills. This brutal and wasteful practice is almost exclusively to meet demand for the gill plates as a psuedo-medicinal ingredient in southern China.
Once the gill plates have been separated from the rays, the bodies of these large animals are often sold for next to nothing or converted to animal feed. Sri Lanka is currently the largest supplier of manta and mobula parts, and no laws exist in the country to protect the animals. Over 55,000 rays are caught off the coast of the small island country each year.
The gill plates are marketed in China as a cure to various ailments, from chicken pox to cancer. However, like many superstitious or traditional medicinal practices, the claims about their effectiveness are completely unsubstantiated. No scientific study has found medical benefits in the consumption of gill plates, and some even suggest toxic substances in the gills may be dangerous to people.
Rays already face extensive threats from pollution, habitat loss, and fishing by-catch across the globe. The added pressure of the gill plate trade is threatening to push them towards extinction. We must take immediate action to stop the killing of these gentle giants before it’s too late. Please urge the president of Sri Lanka to ban the killing of manta and mobula rays.
Dear President Sirisena,
I am deeply concerned about the plight of manta rays in Sri Lankan waters. Manta and mobula rays are large, intelligent fish known for their gentle nature. Due to a recent spike in demand for their gill plates in southern Chinese markets, thousands of rays are now being killed solely for their gills. If the demand persists and rays continue to be killed at this rate, these beautiful creatures may be pushed towards extinction.
The practice of killing rays for their gills is extremely wasteful. The rest of the animal’s meat is regarded as poor quality and thus essentially worthless. The recent demand for gill plates comes from a mistaken belief in China that they possess medicinal properties. These claims are completely unsubstantiated and toxic substances in the gills may even be harmful to people.
Around 55,000 rays are caught by Sri Lankan fisherman each year, amounting to over 50 percent of all rays killed for the gill plate trade worldwide. Eliminating the fishing of rays in Sri Lanka would have a tremendous effect on the protection efforts for these species. Please do not continue to allow Sri Lanka to contribute to this tragedy. I urge you to ban the fishing and sale of manta and mobula rays immediately.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Jon Hanson