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Last week, the federal government announced new protections for the manta ray after a decline in population of the giant rays, which an investigation found may be driven by demands from the Chinese market. It is said local Chinese traders are spruiking the manta ray’s gill rakers as a remedy to treat a range of health conditions from chicken pox to cancer. The giant ray will now be listed as a migratory species, making it an offence to take, trade, keep or move the species from Commonwealth waters.
Gill rakers are not historically part of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), do not appear in TCM texts, and is certainly not part of recent, contemporary practice in Australia.
The Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA) strongly opposes the use of endangered species and illegally acquired wildlife product and believe the demand for manta ray is not coming from the Australian profession.
‘Maybe gill rakers are used as fringe folk medicine, but it is not legitimately part of contemporary or recent TCM practice,’ AACMA CEO Judy James said.
‘We believe in and support sustainable practices and legitimate Australian TCM practitioners do not support the use of illegal product – in fact, most probably have never heard of the manta ray’s claimed use in TCM.’
AACMA collaborated with the federal government in 2007 to develop the Traditional Chinese Medicine Endangered Species Certification Scheme (ESCS) for professionals and traders involved in the research, recommendation, prescription, supply, export or import of traditional Chinese medicines.
Under the scheme, certified individuals and businesses publicly declare to trade only in legally acquired wildlife parts and products and that medicines and other products derived from the illegal trade in endangered species cannot be obtained from the business. This joint government-profession approach is aimed at raising awareness about and reducing the illegal international trade in endangered species.
Registered TCM practitioners in Australia adhere to strict guidelines of practice and do not support the use of illegally acquired products.
For more information on ESCS click here.
For media enquiries, email AACMA.
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