Target: National Marine Fisheries Service Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan
Goal: Protect the giant manta ray and reef manta ray from fishing and habitat destruction.
The federal government has identified two species of manta ray that may be endangered, though they have not yet been placed on the endangered species list. The National Marine Fisheries Service is currently reviewing public comment and performing a status review before deciding if the species merit federal protections. The agency is also considering designating a critical habitat for the manta ray populations, and will proceed if, following the status review, the species’ environments appear to be threatened.
The species in question are the giant manta ray and the reef manta ray, both large, sea-dwelling rays considered “vulnerable” by the federal government. Reef manta rays have experienced a dramatic population drop in recent years as a result of human impacts such as overfishing. The giant manta ray population has been similarly impacted. The animals’ gill rakers fetch a high price in some alternative medicine markets for their supposed health benefits, which has led to indiscriminate fishing of the imperiled rays.
With increased federal protections, and the resultant outlawing of any fishing, trapping, or injuring of these animals, the reef manta ray and giant manta ray could see significant population growth. As the drastic decline in these animals’ population is a relatively recent phenomenon, a timely conservation effort could turn the tide for the rays in a significant way. Urge the National Marine Fisheries Service to follow through with federal protections for manta rays, and to designate a critical habitat for these imperiled animals as well.
Dear Ms. Sullivan,
We are happy you’ve begun considering the giant manta ray and reef manta ray for federal protection and inclusion on the endangered species list. As you know, these animals have seen a significant population drop as a result of human impacts like overfishing. The indiscriminate killing of these animals, largely fueled by demand for their gill rakers as a form of natural medicine, is a shameful offense attack on our nation’s marine life.
We, the undersigned, thank you for the work you have already completed on behalf of these animals. We urge you now to follow through and add both these imperiled animals to the endangered species list, and allow them the federal protections that will allow their populations to recover. Additionally, we ask you to also designate critical habitats for these imperiled manta rays.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Elias Levy