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. It is estimated that up to 70 million sharks are killed by people every year, due to both commercial and recreational fishing. 

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:   photo credit: Dean Grubbs

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 endeavour to cooperate through RFMOs, the FAO, RSCs and biodiversity-related 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 38, 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.


photo credit: Dean Grubbs