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

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 37 species of sharks and rays are listed in Annex 1 of the MOU.

Annex 1 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 Conservation Plan is included in Annex 3. It is guided by five main objectives:

I.   Improving the understanding of migratory shark populations through research, monitoring and information exchange;

II.  Ensuring that directed and non-directed fisheries for sharks are sustainable;

III. Ensuring to the extent practicable the protection of critical habitats and migratory corridors and critical life stages of sharks

IV. Increasing public awareness of threats to sharks and their habitats, and enhance public participation in conservation activities

V.  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 49, including the European Union.

The Advisory Committee (AC) was established at the First Meeting of Signatories to the Sharks MOU (MOS1),  which provides expert advice and suggestions on new initiatives and on the implementation of the MOU to the Secretariat and the Signatories.

Fifteen non-governmental organizations have associated themselves as Cooperating Partners.

The CMS Secretariat acts as Secretariat to the Sharks MOU. It facilitates and promotes implementation of co-operative activities by the Signatory States.


Title Status Status date CMS Party number Region
Albania Range State 076 Europe
Algeria Range State 094 Africa
Angola Range State 099 Africa
Antigua and Barbuda Range State 104 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Argentina Range State 039 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Australia MOU Signatory 2011 037 Oceania
Bahamas Range State South & Central America & The Caribbean
Bahrain Range State 133 Asia
Bangladesh Range State 095 Asia
Barbados Range State South & Central America & The Caribbean
Belgium MOU Signatory 2011 035 Europe
Belize Range State South & Central America & The Caribbean
Benin MOU Signatory 2017 021 Africa
Bosnia and Herzegovina Range State 126 Europe
Brazil MOU Signatory 2017 122 South & Central America & The Caribbean
Brunei Darussalam Range State Asia
Bulgaria Range State 061 Europe
Cabo Verde Range State 096 Africa
Cambodia Range State Asia
Cameroon Range State 001 Africa
Instrument nameMemorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks
TypeArticle IV(4)
DepositaryCMS Secretariat
SignatureSigned by 49 states, the EU and 15 Cooperating 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: Defenders of Wildlife, Divers for Sharks, Dutch Elasmobranch Society (NEV), Humane Society International Australia, Humane Society International USA, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Manta Trust, MarAlliance, Project Aware, Save Our Seas Foundation, Shark Advocates International, Shark Trust, Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF)
PDF icon Sharks MOU text408.31 KB
PDF icon MdE Requins421.02 KB
PDF icon Texto del MdE de los tiburones320.17 KB

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