A regional perspective on the Mobulid Ray interactions with surface fisheries in the Indian Ocean
Mobulids are globally threatened as they have experienced high levels of bycatch and direct exploitation throughout their range and are currently at risk of extinction. At its 22nd session, the IOTC failed to adopt conservation and management measures for Mobula species due to lack of evidence on its interactions with surface fisheries. Without the information available robust measures will not be put in place and implemented risking the future of mobulid populations in the Indian Ocean. This report reviews available information on Mobulid interaction with surface tuna fisheries in the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission areas of competence. Mobulids are mainly caught as bycatch and retained in purse-seine, drift gillnet and, at a lesser extent, in longline fisheries. Mobulids are also targeted in small-scale fisheries for their gill plates, which are highly valuable in Asian markets. The mobula species are assessed using the IUCN red list as endangered (M. mobular), vulnerable (M. alfredi, M. birostris, M. rochebrunei), near threatened (M. eregoodootenkee, M. japonica, M. munkiana, M. thurstoni) and data deficient (M. hypostoma, M. Kuhlii and M. tarapacana). Out of eleven, four species of Mobulids show declining trends (M. alfredi, M. birostris, M. Kuhlii and M. mobular) whereas the status or trend of other species of mobulids remain unknown due to poor data availability. Although in some countries Mobulids are protected and restrictions on fishing and trade have been imposed. However, the effectiveness of the implementation of such measures depends on the availability, reliability, and sharing of scientific knowledge and evidence on its interactions with certain fisheries, for instance tuna/surface fisheries. This review aims to share information for robust measured to be adopted and to avoid overharvest of mobulids.