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Pre Symposium Workshop

Mobulidae Habitat Model Validation Workshop in Indonesia: Spatial Ecological Perspective for Management and Conservation


The main population threat of mobulidae is the wildlife trade that has increased in recent decades. International conservationists are surprised by the significant global population decline of mobulids due to the increasing market demand for gills and other body parts of these fish species. Meanwhile, this high demand is not in line with its biological characteristic these species which tends to be slow in growth, sexual maturity, long life span, length of gestation, low reproductive rate, and low natural death. In response to these concerns, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has included the mobulids group in Appendix II in order to conserve this group of species from extinction.

Meanwhile, Indonesia as one of the world's largest producers of mobulids fishery has increased its attention to the conservation of mobulids in Indonesia by making a protection sanctuary for both manta rays (Mobula birostris and Mobula alfredi), where this protection refuge is preserved to be the world's largest protection sanctuary. Until now, the study of habitat and movement patterns of this group of species is still very limited and focused on certain areas only. The National satellites tagging program has describe the biology and ecology of manta ray in several locations such as Raja Ampat and Komodo, providing valuable information about the habitat preferences, migration and distribution. However, tagging technology are expensive and cannot be used to understand the habitat suitability of the species at locations that are not utilized by the tagged animals. Combining animal tracks, opportunistic data both sighting, catch record and environmental variables into a species distribution model (SDM) is useful to understand the animal’s distribution and habitat preferences which drives their environment requirements. Using oceanographic variable such as the physical and biological covariates used in this study is a simple and low-cost tool to predict mobulids habitats and behavior strategies on a particular location, which will benefit the managers and scientist to identify species habitat for further research direction and management.

Species distribution models (SDMs) have been used in the last two decades to address a wide-range geographic distribution of species, and predict habitat suitability in space and time based on empirical, deterministic, non-parametric, pixel-based, machine-learning method of species record and environmental predictor. This method becomes a crucial tool in fewer fields to investigate ecology, biogeography, evolution, climate study, and recently in conservation biology, and management which are important for wildlife conservation field.  In this study, we investigate the seasonal distribution of suitable habitat for mobulid species in Indonesia, and examine habitat use spatially and temporally around the Indonesian waters, and compare results to current knowledge of these species group to address further research directions that will improve current understanding of the behavioral ecology and conservation of this species group.


Time and Place

Day/Date          : Tuesday, March 27th, 2018

Time                : 08.00 – 12.00 WIB

Place                : Mina Bahari IV Building – Ministry of Marine Affaris and Fisheries


Discussion Session in Mobulids Workshops

1. What are the greatest challenges in managing fisheries and bycatch in Indonesia?

•    Lack of information, accurate data, especially small-scale fisheries (catch data, volumes) Limitations in accuracy when it does exist.
•    Government only focusing on fishing/landing ports. Small-scale fisheries are lacking tools and capacity.
•    Need to address the demand for mobulid products. Very few global studies on why people consume shark and ray meat. Currently consumer studies exist in key SE Asia countries (i.e. WildAid).
•    Need to find ways to change behaviour to reduce demand.
•    Local demand; Still used as cheap meat for local consumption.
•    There are many fishermen in Indonesia that rely on fishing as primary livelihood. Every area is a unique situation that needs addressing individually.

2. What do you feel could be done to reduce mobulid mortality?

•    Increase resources to implement community-based conservation projects nationwide.
•    Bycatch mitigation studies
•    Regulation to limit gill-net use in Indonesia
•    Banned gill-net of mesh size more than 10inch in Malaysia (this reduced landings number)
•    Increased tagging studies to understand key habitat
•    Enforcement
•    Effective MPAs focused on important mobulid habitat

3. What other research is needed to support conservation of mobulids in Indonesia?

•    Migration and movement pattern studies to inform spatial and temporal fisheries management (some groups already working on this at a national scale).
•    Community empowerment
•    Visual sensitivity of mobulids
•    Understanding the economics of mobulid fisheries
•    Genetic research to look at population connectivity
•    Key Mobulid habitat (i.e. nursery grounds etc)
•    Long-term species level catch/landings data
•    Socio-economics

4. What are specific capacity building / training needs to move mobulid conservation forward?

•    More high-tech laboratory and genetics equipment in Indonesia (as difficult to take samples outside Indonesia)
•    Observers on fishing boats to collect accurate data
•    Adopt the international guidelines that Manta Trust (and other NGOs) already have, and promote to the government to utilise
•    National SOP for catch recording

5. What other threats faced by mobulids in Indonesia need to be addressed?

•    Marine pollution
•    Habitat destruction (due to tourism, pollution, fisheries)
•    Tourism growth

6. Are there any priority areas to focus on for protecting mobulid rays, such as significant habitats, critical threats or potential tourism value?

•    Information from BPSPL, a lot of landings in East Java (Pigi).

7. Woud you find it useful to have regular meetings to share, plan and coordinate efforts for mobulid research and conservation? Would you be interested in developing a southeast asia-wide mobulid focus group?

•    Lots of interest in regular Indonesian and SE Asia meetings

8. Is everyone happy to have their email shared with this group for sharing information and coordination efforts?

•    Everyone happy