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February 24, 2016

NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has decided that a petition it received to list the Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris) and reef manta ray (Manta alfredi) as threatened or endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) was substantial enough that listing these marine species may indeed be warranted.  After reviewing the information contained in the petition, as well as information readily available in NMFS files, NMFS concluded that the petition presents substantial scientific information indicating the petitioned action of listing the giant manta ray and the reef manta ray as threatened or endangered species may be warranted. Therefore, in accordance with section 4(b)(3)(B) of the ESA and NMFS’ implementing regulations (50 CFR 424.14(b)(3)), NMFS will commence a status review of these two species. 

During the status review, NMFS will determine whether the rays are in danger of extinction (endangered) or likely to become so (threatened) throughout all or a significant portion of their range. Both species are now considered to be candidate species for listing (69 FR 19975; April 15, 2004). Within 12 months of the receipt of the petition (November 10, 2016), NMFS will make a finding as to whether listing the rays as endangered or threatened species is warranted as required by section 4(b)(3)(B) of the ESA. If listing is found to be warranted, NMFS will publish a proposed rule and solicit public comments before developing and publishing a final rule.

To ensure that the status review is based on the best available scientific and commercial data, NMFS is soliciting information on whether the giant manta ray and reef manta ray are endangered or threatened. Specifically, they are soliciting information in the following areas:

  1. historical and current distribution and abundance of these species throughout their respective ranges;
  2. historical and current population trends;
  3. life history in marine environments, including identified nursery grounds;
  4. historical and current data on manta ray catch, bycatch and retention in industrial, commercial, artisanal, and recreational fisheries worldwide;
  5. historical and current data on manta ray discards in global fisheries;
  6. data on the trade of manta ray products, including gill rakers, meat, and skin;
  7. any current or planned activities that may adversely impact either of these species;
  8. any impacts of the manta ray tourism industry on manta ray behavior;
  9. ongoing or planned efforts to protect and restore these species and their habitats;
  10. population structure information, such as genetics data; and management, regulatory, and enforcement information.

NMFS requests that all information be accompanied by:

  1. Supporting documentation such as maps, bibliographic references, or reprints of pertinent publications;
  2. the submitter’s name, address, and any association, institution, or business that the person represents. 

The NMFS finding and other details can be read here:

Endangered and Threatened Wildlife; 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List Three Manta Rays as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act