Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 229–239 | Cite as

Speak of the devil ray (Mobula mobular) fishery in Gaza

  • Mohammed Abudaya
  • Aylin Ulman
  • Jehad Salah
  • Daniel Fernando
  • Catarina Wor
  • Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara
Research Paper


Little is known about the giant devil ray (Mobula mobular), an endangered species endemic to the Mediterranean. Gaza is the only region where this species is targeted, hence, this fishery was studied to address the knowledge gap on fishery interactions, species behavior, and life-history traits. Devil rays have been frequenting this maritime area for at least the past 50 years for a short window from February to April. Landings are reported from 2005 to 2016, along with disc-width (DW) measurements for recent years. A total of 304 M. mobular (over 90% males) were landed in Gaza from 2014 to 2016, most which were mature and appeared to be mating (over 90% of males had sperm-filled claspers), providing critical insight that this area may serve as a mating ground. Yearly landings are shown here to closely match the allowed fishing distance from shore, which changes regularly, indicating that the rays are normally caught between 6 and 12 n.m. offshore. Width-weight conversion parameters are calculated for the first time for this species: a = 2.68 × 10−6 and b = 4.39. Fresh protein drives this local fishery, as food security is a major issue. An export market for gill plates was reported intermittently, and is no longer possible due to strict trade restrictions. We highlight the lack of awareness of fishers regarding the IUCN’s Red List ‘Endangered’ status of devil rays, and stress the urgent need for national protection of this species, particularly due to the species’ very slow life-history traits and probable usage of this area as a mating ground.


Conservation Endangered species Food security Mediterranean Sea Mobulidae Palestine 



We thank the Save Our Seas Foundation for funding this study from 2013 to 2014 and the MAVA Foundation for funding the study from 2015 to 2016.

Supplementary material

11160_2017_9491_MOESM1_ESM.docx (31 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 30 kb)
11160_2017_9491_MOESM2_ESM.docx (26 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 26 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Research CentreGaza CityPalestine
  2. 2.Sea Around Us, Institute for the Oceans and FisheriesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  3. 3.Directorate of FisheriesMinistry of AgricultureGaza CityPalestine
  4. 4.The Manta TrustDorchesterUK
  5. 5.Department of Biology and Environmental ScienceLinnaeus UniversityKalmarSweden
  6. 6.Blue Resources TrustColomboSri Lanka
  7. 7.Institute for the Oceans and FisheriesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  8. 8.Tethys Research InstituteMilanItaly

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