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In 1994, the Ninth Conference of CITES adopted a Resolution on the Biological and Trade Status of Sharks (Conf. 9.17), requesting that FAO and other international fisheries management organizations establish programmes to collect biological and trade data on shark species. This request lead to discussions at FAO’s twenty-second session of its Committee on Fisheries (COFI) in 1997. Many delegations noted that conservation and effective management of shark populations merited further examination and thus FAO organized, with Japan and the United States, an expert consultation to develop guidelines for a plan of action to be submitted to the next session. The Committee also called upon regional fishery management bodies and other competent organizations to examine all aspects of shark conservation and management.

An International Plan of Action for Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-SHARKS) was developed through the meeting of a Technical Working Group on the Conservation and Management of Sharks in Tokyo in April 1998 and a subsequent Consultation on Management of Fishing Capacity, Shark Fisheries and Incidental Catch of Seabirds in Longline Fisheries held in Rome in October of the same year. The IPOA-SHARKS was adopted by the 23rd session of COFI in 1999 who noted that the implementation of the plan should be pursued as high priority.

This document was prepared by the FAO Marine Resources Service (FIRM), based on the work of Dr Terry Walker, Program Leader, Modelling and Data Management, Marine and Freshwater Resources Institute, P.O. Box 114 Queenscliff, Victoria 3225, Australia. (e-mail:

It has to be stressed that these Guidelines have no formal legal status. They are intended to provide support for the implementation of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Furthermore, in order to present the management process in all its complexity and diversity, the wording and structure of these Guidelines do not follow strictly the language and structure of the Code. Therefore, any eventual differences in the terminology employed should not be understood as intending reinterpretation of the Code. Finally, it should be remembered that, since the Guidelines are intended to be flexible and capable of evolving as circumstances change, or as new information becomes available, they may be further revised and complemented by other guidelines, notes, etc., on specific issues.


All FAO Members and Associate Members
Interested Nations and International Organizations
FAO Fisheries Department
FAO Fisheries Officers in FAO Regional Offices
Interested Non-Governmental Organizations

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