A MARINE biologist from Andover is celebrating after playing an instrumental part in the creation of the world’s largest manta ray sanctuary in Indonesia.

The sanctuary encompasses almost 6 million kilometres of ocean and UK based marine conservation company MantaWatch have helped apply cutting edge web and social technology.

Andrew Harvey is MantaWatch’s founder and director and has lived all of his life in the Andover region including St Mary Bourne and Appleshaw.

MantaWatch have developed and operate MantaTrax, the world’s first social web application for manta ray research and conservation.

The announcement from the government of Indonesia provides full protection to manta rays throughout South East Asia’s biggest country which for years has been the world’s largest shark and ray fishery.

Andrew Harvey said: “This is a great example of how governments and the diving industry can work together to achieve positive impacts for the environment and the economy.”

Agus Dermawan, a senior official from Indonesia’s Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries said: “Indonesia now has the secondlargest manta ray tourism industry in the world, with an estimated annual turnover of $15 million.

“Given the huge area of reefs and islands in our country, if managed properly, Indonesia could become the top manta tourism destination on the planet.”