In order to preserve the populations of mantas across Indonesia, where fishing is a primary source of income, an alternative solution must be provided. It isn’t just as simple as saying “don’t hunt mantas.” Fishing has been an integral component to the culture and economy of the country, and if there is any hope of shifting their practices, there must be a viable reason.
Thankfully, beyond the positive ecological impact there is a sound financial reason for limiting the hunting of manta rays as well, especially in Lamakera.
It is estimated that manta ecotourism worldwide brings $140 million USD per year, with $15 million USD being in Indonesia alone. If you take that $15 million and compare it to the estimated $400,000 USD generated by the manta fishing, the difference is dramatic.
However, even with those numbers as fodder for the transition from fishing to tourist income, it is still a challenging road ahead for a village like Lamakera. While the sale of a manta is immediate income, tourist money takes time to reshape a local economy, and when there are children and families that need providing for, that can be a difficult wait.
If small steps are taken in this direction though, and champions for mantas step up within the community, these changes are possible.