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

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 ofSignatories (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 36, 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 Party number Region
Eritrea Range state 89
Estonia Range state 110 Europe
European Union MOU Signatory 2011 1 Europe
Fiji Range state 119 Oceania
Finland Range state 28 Europe
France Range state 32 Europe
Gabon Range state 109 Africa
Gambia Range state 75 Africa
Georgia Range state 67 Europe
Germany MOU Signatory 2011 16 Europe
Ghana MOU Signatory 2010 26 Africa
Greece Range state 62 Europe
Grenada Range state South & Central America & The Caribbean
Guatemala Range state South & Central America & The Caribbean
Guinea MOU Signatory 2010 41 Africa
Guinea-Bissau Range state 47 Africa
Guyana Range state South & Central America & The Caribbean
Haiti Range state South & Central America & The Caribbean
Honduras Range state 102 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Iceland Range state Europe
Instrument nameMemorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks
TypeArticle IV(4)
DepositaryCMS Secretariat
SignatureSigned by 36 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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