Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES)
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES) is an international agreement between Governments. Its aim is to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival.
The species covered by CITES are listed in three Appendices, according to the degree of protection they need:
- Appendix I includes species threatened with extinction. Trade in specimens of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.
- Appendix II includes species not necessarily threatened with extinction, but in which trade must be controlled in order to avoid utilization incompatible with their survival.
- Appendix III contains species that are protected in at least one country, which has asked other CITES Parties for assistance in controlling the trade.
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS)
The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), also known as the Bonn Convention, is an intergovernmental treaty under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). It serves as a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. The Convention was signed in 1979 and, as of April 2021, includes 132 Parties.
The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks
The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (Sharks MOU) is a daughter agreement under the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS). It represents the only global instrument specifically dedicated to the conservation of migratory species of sharks. The MOU was concluded in 2010 and is legally non-binding; rather, Signatories have committed politically to its implementation. As of June 2021, the Sharks MOU has been signed by 48 States, the European Union (EU), and 15 cooperating partners.
IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
The SSG is responsible for preparing species assessments for sharks, rays and chimaeras for the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. The IUCN Red List is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global status of plant and animal species and is the most extensively used system for gauging the extinction risk faced by species. It uses a single set of standardised criteria, IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria, to evaluate the likelihood of extinction occurring within a specified time period under past, current and future conditions. Each assessment is supported by detailed documentation, including information on distribution, population trends, habitat and ecology, life-history, threats and conservation measures.
The assessments and supporting documentation are independently evaluated by at least two members of the SSG (the Red List Authority for sharks, rays, and chimaeras) and summaries circulated to the entire SSG network before submission to the IUCN Red List Unit.
Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs)
Many shark species migrate out of national jurisdictions into the high seas, making international cooperation essential to effective shark conservation. International fisheries management is the responsibility of a network of Regional Fishery Management Organizations (RFMOs) with varying degrees of legal competence for setting limits on fishing for sharks (including rays).
A major first step in the process of regulating shark fishing in RFMO waters was a prohibition on shark finning (defined as slicing off a shark's fins and discarding the body at sea). Finning is now prohibited by most RFMOs, but problematic loopholes still exist. To close these loopholes, many RFMOs are undergoing changes to their finning bans, from a fins-to-carcass ratio to mandating that sharks are landed with their fins naturally attached ("fins-attached"). These changes, however, have stalled for several RFMOs (some examples are outlined below). Additionally, it is important to note that a great number of countries party to these RFMOs have yet to ban shark finning in their national waters, and implementation of the RFMO bans varies among countries, limiting their effectiveness...
UN FAO International Plan of Action for Sharks (IPOA-Sharks)
Widespread concern over the lack of management of shark fisheries and the impact that expanding catches may have on shark populations led to the adoption and endorsement of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA–SHARKS) in 1999. This plan is aimed at ensuring the conservation and management of sharks and their long-term sustainable use, with particular emphasis on improving species-specific catch and landings data collection, and the monitoring and management of shark fisheries. The IPOA–SHARKS recommends, inter alia, that all States contributing to fishing mortality on an elasmobranch species or stock should participate in its management, and should develop a National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (NPOA-SHARKS) before 2001.
The IUCN SSG is already actively involved in assisting States with the implementation of IPOA–SHARKS. Its members have contributed significantly to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Technical Manual for Elasmobranch Fisheries Management Techniques (the SSG has now negotiated with FAO for its translation and publication in three languages in 2005), advised many States and regional bodies on the development of shark fisheries monitoring and management initiatives (including the drafting of National Shark Plans), participated in collaborative projects that include fisheries monitoring and management training elements, and have held a regional training workshop for fisheries managers...