Sunday, September 29, 2013

Citizen Science - Mantas!

The goddess of citizen science has done it again!

It comes to the following conclusion.
Our study provides a broad overview of population trends and human use patterns of mobulids around the world, and supports previous studies in describing that mobulids are relatively rare within their range, are largely in a state of decline and are being fished in several areas that are not officially reported to the FAO.
Despite some limitations of our data, and their application, these findings broadly support calls for increasing international conservation efforts for mobulids and helps to identify unprotected mobulid hotspots. Such regions could become a priority for increased monitoring and conservation initiatives. A paucity of data describing realized exploitation rates (percent of the population that is removed relative to the total population), suggests that this may be a priority for future research efforts. In the meantime, data collection needs to be improved with more accurate reporting of mobulid landings to the FAO – this may be as simple as providing species identification of catches.

Finally, our study suggests that diver observations can be an important source of information in data-poor situations, and could be utilized more fully into the future.
Here's to citizen science - and this is precisely why we have initiated the Great Fiji Shark Count and asked Christine to please assume the scientific leadership role which she has graciously accepted.
As a reminder, the GFSC is not a census but long-term monitoring, and I am quite confident that it, together with another so far unpublished initiative will provide us but above all, Fiji's fisheries managers with excellent long-term data about trends, upon which to base any management policies.
I also have no doubt that the trend is increasingly negative - but more about that later.

Regarding the abovementioned species identification of catches.
Contrary to what the usual nay-sayers may claim, there are already multiple excellent resources.
Now, it's a matter of legislation and then, implementation.
With the CITES implementation looming, those countries that are still engaging in fishing for Devil Rays got their work cut out to get their shit sorted out in time.

And the citizen scientists shall be watching!

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