New conservation measure adopted In the Indian Ocean to protect vulnerable devil rays
The Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) has adopted the first ever conservation management measure (CMM) for Mobulid or devil rays. Countries agreed to release caught animals using safe release guidelines, improved data collection and scientific investigation of the survival rates of released rays.
This work has culminated over a period of three years and demontrates the consistent persistence of IOTC member states led by the Government of Maldives with the Mobulid rays proposal being deferred since 2017.
WWF responded to the Commission's request to provide evidence that mobulid rays were being caught in surface fisheries. WWF submitted regional and national reports with support from Blue Resources Trust and individual scientists from around the world at the IOTC’s Working Party on Ecosystem and Bycatch held in South Africa in 2018, and recommended that the IOTC adopt non-retention measures and apply the precautionary approach.
At the 23rdannual session of the IOTC, which wrapped up on the 23rd June, the Commissioners responded positively and set another example of applying the precautionary approach to have CMMs adopted in 2019 instead of 2020 as per the advice of the Commission in 2018 in order to address the fishing pressure on a vulnerable species and reduce its impacts.