The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks is the first global instrument for the conservation of migratory species of sharks. 

At present time, it is estimated that one-quarter of chondrichthyan species are threatened worldwide (Dulvy et al. 2014). Sharks are under serious threat around the globe. In accordance with recent scientific studies (Worm et al. 2013) the number of sharks being killed every year ranges between 63 and 273 million individuals.

The MOU is a legally non-binding international instrument. It aims to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for migratory sharks based on the best available scientific information and taking into account the socio-economic value of these species for the people in various countries. 

Currently 29 species of sharks are listed in Annex I of the MOU:   

Basking Shark (Cetorhinus maximus

Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

Longfin Mako Shark (Isurus paucus)

Porbeagle (Lamna nasus)

Shortfin Mako Shark (Isurus oxyrinchus)

Spiny Dogfish (Squalus acanthias)

Whale Shark (Rhincodon typus

Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis)

Great Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna mokarran)

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini)

Thresher Sharks 

  • Alopias superciliosus 
  • Alopias vulpinus 
  • Alopias pelagicus 

Giant Manta Ray (Manta birostris)

Reef Manta Ray (Manta alfredi)


  • Anoxypristis cuspidata 
  • Pristis clavata 
  • Pristis pectinata 
  • Pristis zijsron 
  • Pristis pristis

Mobula Rays

  • Mobula mobular 
  • Mobula japonica 
  • Mobula thurstoni 
  • Mobula tarapacana 
  • Mobula eregoodootenkee 
  • Mobula kuhlii 
  • Mobula hypostoma 
  • Mobula rochebrunei 
  • Mobula munkiana 

Annex I is open for further listings of species which may include any of the migratory species, subspecies or populations in the Class Chondrichthyes (sharks, rays, skates and chimaeras).

The objectives of the Conservation Plan are listed in Annex III:

  • Improving the understanding of migratory shark populations through research, monitoring and information exchange
  • Ensuring that directed and non-directed fisheries for sharks are sustainable
  • Ensuring to the extent practicable the protection of critical habitats and migratory corridors and critical life stages of sharks
  • Increasing public awareness of threats to sharks and their habitats, and enhance public participation in conservation activities
  • Enhancing national, regional and international cooperation

​In pursuing activities described under this objective, Signatories should endeavor to cooperate through regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), Regional Seas Conventions (RSCs) and biodiversity-related Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs).

The Meeting of Signatories (MOS) is the decision-making body of the MOU and reviews the conservation status of migratory sharks and the implementation of the MOU and Conservation Plan. The MOU is open for signature by all Range States of migratory sharks and states and regional economic integration organizations, flag vessels of which are engaged outside its national jurisdictional limits in taking, or which have the potential to take, migratory sharks. The current number of Signatories is 39, including the European Union.

At the First Meeting of Signatories to the Sharks MOU (MOS1) HSI AU and HSI USA signed onto the MOU as Cooperating Partners. Furthermore, an Advisory Committee was established which provides expert advice and suggestions on new initiatives and on the implementation of the MOU to the Secretariat and the Signatories.

The CMS Secretariat located in Bonn, Germany, acts as the Interim Secretariat to the Sharks MOU until a permanent Secretariat is established. It facilitates and promotes implementation of co-operative activities by the Signatory States.


Titlesort descending Status Status date CMS Party number Region
Albania Range State 76 Europe
Algeria Range State 94 Africa
Angola Range State 99 Africa
Antigua and Barbuda Range State 104 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Argentina Range State 39 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Australia MOU Signatory 2011 37 Oceania
Bahamas Range State South & Central America & The Caribbean
Bahrain Range State AM South-West Asia
Bangladesh Range State 95 Asia
Barbados Range State South & Central America & The Caribbean
Belgium MOU Signatory 2011 35 Europe
Belize Range State South & Central America & The Caribbean
Benin Range State 21 Africa
Bosnia and Herzegovina Range State Europe
Brazil Range State 122 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Brunei Darussalam Range State Asia
Cabo Verde Range State 96 Africa
Cambodia Range State South-East Asia
Cameroon Range State 1 Africa
Canada Range State North America
Instrument nameMemorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks
TypeArticle IV(4)
DepositaryCMS Secretariat
SignatureSigned by 39 States and 2 Co-operating Partners (for details please scroll to 'other' and 'MoU Signatory')
In effectThe first date of the month following the tenth signature
Website URL
OtherSigned also by Co-operating Partners: The Humane Society International (Australia) and the Humane Society International (United States) signed on 27.09.2012
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