The Wildlife Conservation Society Indonesian Marine Program conducted preliminary manta and shark surveys in the waters of Weh Islands and Banda Aceh from 17-21 April 2009. Manta ray survey was in marine waters of Weh Island. We found 2 species of manta in Sabang, Manta birostris, a non-Oceanic species and Aetobatus narinari (eagle ray), both found in low abundance.
While visiting the main fish-landing site at Lampulo, Banda Aceh, we found landed sharks sold at the market, ranging from 30 to 50 individuals can be sold each day. The sharks were caught mainly by Meulaboh and Aceh Islands fishers. Dr. Rachel Graham, WCS shark specialist, visited the market and found 34 sharks from 2 species, mainly young shark pups. All shark fins were cut off for sale. Based on the numbers and size of the sharks caught, there is an indication that they were captured most likely from a shark pupping or nursery grounds. Shark fins were sold for about Rp.30,000 per kg (about USD 3). Besides sharks, mantas were also caught by fishers and sold at the market.
WCS continues to work with local fishers, the Panglima Laot, and the Community-based Bathymetric Survey to identify the most effective management options to protect some of these species. The development of a marine protected areas network has been supported by the Governor of Nangroe Aceh Darrusalam. Information being collected by WCS and the Community-based Bathymetric Survey will be used to identify key biodiversity areas, spawning grounds, shark nursery areas and other critical areas for the design of MPA network for the Aceh region that aims to protect marine biodiversity and fishery stocks.