Earlier in November, traffickers carrying mantas and devil rays were detained in Bali, Indonesia, with 227 pounds of manta gill plates in one of the largest busts of its kind.
Manta and devil ray gills are coveted in China for their supposed medicinal value in tonics, although this value is not recognized in mainstream traditional Chinese medicine. Most species are caught off the coasts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and India with 90 percent of recorded manta deaths occurring in these territories.
In 2013, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) voted to regulate the trade of manta rays (along with five other shark species) and since then, arrests have apparently begun to curb manta sales. Experts are cautiously optimistic that policies such as this will begin to address the problem of effectively protecting fisheries and endangered species.
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