Resolution Conf. 12.6 (Rev. CoP16)

Conservation and management of sharks

RECOGNIZING that sharks are particularly vulnerable to overexploitation owing to their late maturity, longevity and low fecundity;

RECOGNIZING that there is a significant international trade in sharks and their products;

RECOGNIZING that unregulated and unreported trade is contributing to unsustainable fishing of a number of shark species;

RECOGNIZING the duty of all States to cooperate, either directly or through appropriate sub-regional or regional organizations in the conservation and management of fisheries resources;

NOTING that IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species (2009.2) lists 181 shark taxa;

RECOGNIZING that the International Plan of Action on the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-sharks) was prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in 1999 and that all States whose vessels conduct directed fisheries or regularly take sharks in non-directed fisheries are encouraged by FAO's Committee on Fisheries (COFI) to adopt a National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Shark Stocks (NPOA-Sharks);

NOTING the contentsof: Report of the technical workshop on the status, limitations and opportunities for improving the monitoring of shark fisheries and trade. Rome, 3-6 November 2008. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Report No. 897 (an advanced copy of which was circulated as document AC24 Inf. 6) and FAO (2009) Responsible fish trade. FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. No. 11. Rome, FAO;

NOTING that, through the adoption of Resolution Conf. 9.17 and Decisions 10.48, 10.73, 10.74, 10.93, 10.126, 11.94 11.151, 12.47-12.49, 13.42, 13.43 and 14.101-14.117, Parties to CITES have previously recognized the conservation threat that international trade poses to sharks;

WELCOMING the report adopted at the 18th meeting of the Animals Committee that noted that CITES should continue to contribute to international efforts to address shark conservation and trade concerns;

NOTING that States were encouraged by FAO to have prepared NPOAs for sharks by the COFI 24th session held in 2001;

NOTING that there is a significant lack of progress with the development and implementation of NPOAs;

CONCERNED that insufficient progress has been made in achieving shark management through the implementation of IPOA-Sharks except in States where comprehensive shark assessment reports and NPOA-Sharks have been developed;

CONCERNED that the continued significant trade in sharks and their products is not sustainable;


INSTRUCTS the CITES Secretariat to inform FAO of the concerns of the CITES Parties regarding the significant lack of progress in implementing the IPOA-Sharks, and to urge FAO to take steps to encourage actively relevant States to develop NPOA-Sharks;

DIRECTS the Animals Committee to examine new information provided by range States on trade and other available relevant data and information, and report their analyses at meetings of the Conference of the Parties;

ENCOURAGES Parties to obtain information on implementation of NPOA-Sharks or regional plans, and to report directly on progress to the CITES Secretariat and at future meetings of the Animals Committee;

URGES FAO's COFI and Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) to strengthen their efforts to undertake the research, training, data collection, data analysis and shark management plan development outlined by FAO as necessary to implement the IPOA-Sharks;

ENCOURAGES Parties to assist in building financial and technical capacity in developing countries for shark and ray activities under CITES, and for the implementation of the IPOA-Sharks;

URGES Parties that are shark fishing States but that have not yet implemented an NPOA-Sharks, to develop their own NPOAs at the earliest opportunity and take steps to improve research and data collection on both fisheries and trade as a first step towards their Shark Plans, particularly the necessity to improve the collection of catch and trade data at the lowest taxonomic level possible (ideally by species);

FURTHER URGES Parties to discuss CITES activities within the appropriate RFMOs of which they are members;

ENCOURAGES Parties to improve data collection, data reporting, management and conservation measures for  shark species, implementing, enhancing and enforcing these actions through domestic, bilateral, RFMOs or other international measures;

DIRECTS the Animals Committee to make species-specific recommendations at meetings of the Conference of the Parties if necessary on improving the conservation status of sharks;

REQUESTS Management Authorities to collaborate with their national Customs authorities to expand their current classification system to allow for the collection of detailed data on shark trade including, where possible, separate categories for processed and unprocessed products, for meat, cartilage, skin and fins, and to distinguish imports, exports and re-exports and between shark fin products that are dried, wet, processed and unprocessed fins. Wherever possible, these data should be species-specific;

INSTRUCTS the Secretariat to monitor discussions within the World Customs Organization regarding the development of a Customs data model, and the inclusion therein of a data field to report trade in sharks at species level, and to issue Notifications to the Parties concerning any significant developments;

ENCOURAGES Parties, in close cooperation with FAO and RFMOs, to undertake or facilitate continued research to improve understanding of the nature of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing concerning sharks, identify the linkages between international trade in shark fins and meat, and IUUfishing;

ENCOURAGES Parties, intergovernmental and non-governmental bodies to undertake studies of trade in shark meat, including prices in major fish markets in order to better identify the shark products that are driving IUU fishing;

DIRECTS the Animals Committee to report progress on shark and ray activities at the meetings of the Conference of the Parties; and

ENCOURAGES range States of species in the family Potamotrygonidae to:

a)    note the findings and conclusions of the freshwater stingray workshop (document AC24 Doc. 14.2), and increase their efforts to improve data collection on the scale and impact of the threats facing stingray species and populations from collection for ornamental trade, commercial fisheries for food and habitat damage;

b)    consider implementing or reinforcing national regulations regarding the management and reporting of capture of and international trade in freshwater stingrays for all purposes, including commercial fishing for food and ornamental trade, and standardizing these measures across the region, for example through existing South American intergovernmental bodies; and

c)    consider the listing of endemic and threatened species of freshwater stingrays (Potamotrygonidae) in CITES Appendix III as needing the cooperation of other Parties in the control of trade.

* Amended at the 15th and 16th meetings of the Conference of the Parties.

Number / Code: 
Conf. 12.6 (Rev. CoP16)
COP meeting: 
Twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties