According to wildlife charities, between 3,500 to 5,000 manta rays are killed each year for their gills.
A fisherman in Asia is able to make up to $40 for each Manta ray gill that he sells. The dried gills end up in China being sold for up to $2,000.
The estimated value of the illegal trade in Manta rays is between $5 Million to $10 Million a year. In areas where the Manta ray are living, the economic value of the species to the tourism industry is worth $100 Million.
In the waters off of Indonesia, the population of Manta rays has declined by 56 percent. In Sri Lanka, the population has declined by 86 percent.
Source: Damian Carrington, “Manta rays: how illegal trade eats its own lunch,” Guardian, Environment Blog, March 5, 2013.