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 and rays 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 48, 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.

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

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


Titlesort ascending Status Status date CMS Party number Region
Yemen MOU Signatory 2014 100 Asia
Viet Nam Range State AM Asia
Venezuela Range State South & Central America & The Caribbean
Vanuatu MOU Signatory 2013 AM Oceania
Uruguay Range State 31 South & Central America & The Caribbean
United States of America MOU Signatory 2010 AM North America
United Republic of Tanzania Range State 59 Africa
United Kingdom MOU Signatory 2012 19 Europe
United Arab Emirates MOU Signatory 2014 123 Asia
Ukraine Range State 63 Europe
Tuvalu MOU Signatory 2010 AM Oceania
Turkey Range State AM Europe
Tunisia Range State 23 Africa
Trinidad and Tobago Range State South & Central America & The Caribbean
Tonga Range State AM Oceania
Togo MOU Signatory 2010 48 Africa
Timor-Leste Range State Oceania
Thailand Range State AM Asia
Syria MOU Signatory 2014 82 Asia
Sweden MOU Signatory 2014 1 Europe
Instrument nameMemorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks
TypeArticle IV(4)
DepositaryCMS Secretariat
SignatureSigned by 48 States and 11 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: The Humane Society International (Australia) - 27.09.2012 Humane Society International (United States) - 27.09.2012 International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) - 19.02.2016 Manta Trust - 19.02.2016 Project Aware - 19.02.2016 Shark Advocates International - 19.02.2016 Shark Trust- 19.02.2016 Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) - 19.02.2016
PDF icon Sharks MOU text (including Annex 1-3)_English377.15 KB
PDF icon MdE Requins (y compris les annexes 1-3)_Français470.89 KB
PDF icon Texto del MdE de los tiburones (incluidos los anexos 1-3)_ Español399.97 KB

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