The sharks MoU was negotiated during three meetings, in Mahé (Seychelles) in 2007, in Rome (Italy) in 2008, and in Manila (Philippines) where it was signed in February 2010. The MoU commenced on 1 March 2010, one month following the tenth signature.
The Government of Seychelles hosted the first inter-governmental meeting on shark sonservation in Mahé, 11-13 December 2007. More than 40 governments and representatives of NGOs and fisheries bodies attended the intensive three day meeting organized by CMS. By 2006, three shark species (Basking Shark, Whale Shark and Great White Shark) were listed in the Appendices of CMS, CITES and IUCN. CMS Resolution 8.5 and Recommendation 8.16 reflect the urgent need for action by national and regional management authorities to address threats to migratory sharks. At the first meeting the governments agreed in principle to a new global agreement under the UN to protect these three iconic shark species.
The second inter-governmental negotiation meeting concerning international co-operation on migratory sharks under CMS took place in Rome, 6-8 December 2008, hosted by FAO. The meeting considered possible texts for a CMS instrument on sharks. The main outcomes of the negotiations were:
- Shark range States came to a consensus that the shark instrument should be a Memorandum of Understanding, in non-binding form.
- The MoU should definitely apply to the three species of the Basking, Great White and Whale Sharks. Four further species listed on Appendix II of the Convention at COP9 should also be considered for inclusion in the MoU.
- The common objective is to complete an instrument on migratory sharks so that it can be opened for signature before the end of 2009.
On 12 February 2010, during the 3rd Negotiation Meetin in Manila, government representatives agreed on the text of the Memorandum. The delegates agreed to include all seven shark species in the CMS appendices.
CMS Executive Secretary Elizabeth Maruma Mrema emphasized:
The first global CMS instrument on commercially exploited species is a decisive step forward in international shark conservation. Wildlife Conventions, UN Agencies and international fisheries need to work together to prevent these creatures that roam the world’s oceans form becoming extinct.