Shark Conservation in the Spotlight – Nine Countries Sign the CMS Sharks MOU in Dubai

Bonn, 27 February 2014 - International shark conservation has received a strong boost this month,  with 9 of the 13 countries which gathered in Dubai for a training workshop signing the CMS Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks.

The training workshop was organized by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) Middle East from 17 – 20 February 2014 and was hosted by the United Arab Emirates in Dubai, with funding also coming from the European Commission’s contributions to CMS.   

“The signing of the CMS Sharks MOU by nine Arab countries in Dubai is a strong signal which shows commitment and confidence in international cooperation to conserve migratory sharks. We hope this sets a good example for other countries in the world to do the same.” said Bradnee Chambers, Executive Secretary of CMS.     

Action to help conserve sharks is urgently needed.  According to a recent analysis carried out by the IUCN one quarter of the world’s 1,041 shark, skate, ray and chimaera species are threatened.

Representatives from 13 Arabic-speaking countries ranging from Mauritania through the Syrian Arab Republic to the Comoros attended the workshop, and nine of them - the Comoros, Egypt, Jordan, Libya, Mauritania, Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen signed the MOU. This brings the number of Signatories to 36 – 35 countries and the European Union (the full list of Signatories on the Sharks MOU website can be accessed by clicking here).

Commenting on the extraordinary 33 per cent growth in the MOU’s membership, Melanie Virtue, Head of the Aquatic Species Team at the CMS Secretariat, said: “For many species of sharks time is running out and we need to act before their numbers face even further declines. The clear message being sent from the IFAW Dubai workshop is that Arab countries stand together to combat illegal international trade in endangered sharks and want to work together under the framework of the CMS Sharks MOU to protect these species that are so crucial for marine ecosystems and local economies”.

According to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization an estimated 0.6 million metric tons of shark have been caught every year for the last two decades and 26 to 73 million sharks are killed each year to support the global shark fin market (according to a study led by Shelley C. Clarke and published in 2006: “Global estimates of shark catches using trade records from commercial markets”).  This figure, however, does not take into account the vast illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing of sharks.

Most sharks are long-living species which grow slowly, mature late and produce few young. These biological factors make sharks particularly vulnerable to overfishing and mean that populations will be slow to recover once depleted.

Egypt and Sudan also used the occasion of the workshop in Dubai to sign the CMS Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Marine Turtles and their Habitats of the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia (IOSEA), bringing the number of Signatories to that CMS instrument to 35. For further information on the IOSEA news, please see the IOSEA website.

Selected Media Coverage

Last updated on 15 March 2014