New shark and manta ray sanctuary in Coral Triangle

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Environmentalists have welcomed a move by Indonesia to create a new shark and manta ray sanctuary in the Coral Triangle.

The Coral Triangle is recognised as the global centre of marine biodiversity, and is often described as the 'Amazon of the seas'. More than 3000 species of fish are found there.

The new sanctuary will cover 46,000 square km/17,760 square miles of this rich ecosystem, in waters around the Raja Ampat islands, which is home to almost 1400 fish species and over 600 species of coral.

The area is a popular tourist destination for divers, but is at risk from overfishing and climate change.

The fishing and finning of sharks will now be banned in the zone, and manta rays will also be protected — the gills of these fish are used in some Asian medicines.

As well as sharks and manta rays, the sanctuary will also provide protection for sea turtles and dugongs, and destructive practices including reef bombing will be banned.

Collecting for the marine aquarium hobby will also be prohibited.

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