Editor’s Note: As 2015 comes to a close, we’re recapping some of Human Nature’s top stories of the year. See more here.
When Indonesia created the world’s largest manta ray sanctuary in 2014 — a year after a local government in West Papua passed a law protecting all sharks and rays in its waters — skeptics wondered if authorities would take enforcement seriously.
The sinking of an illegal fishing boat proved them wrong.
Captured by police in West Papua in late January with more than two tons of shark fins and manta flesh in its hold, the Vietnamese boat was turned into a dive site three weeks later — sunk as a warning to other vessels fishing in protected waters. The Indonesian Navy and the Marine Affairs Ministry followed suit, sinking 34 boats in August and 12 more in October.
This wasn’t all that Indonesia brought to the conservation table in 2015: In October, West Papua declared itself a “conservation province,” establishing a legal framework for conservation efforts — and a potential model for more effective conservation globally.
“Just two years ago, it was hard to imagine that the world’s largest shark and ray fishing nation could switch gears so rapidly,” wrote Conservation International’s Mark Erdmann.
Click here to read the full story, our most popular post of 2015.
Cassandra Kane is a staff writer at Conservation International.
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