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FAO Marine Resources Service.
Fisheries management. 1. Conservation and management of sharks.
FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. No. 4, Suppl. 1. Rome, FAO. 2000. 37p.


These Guidelines have been produced to support implementation of the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks). The Guidelines are addressed to decision-makers and policy-makers associated with conserving shark and other chondrichthyan species and with managing the harvest of these resources, but they should be of interest to fishing industries and other parties.

The IPOA-Sharks is consistent with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, agreements from the 1995 United Nations Conference on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, and any applicable rules of international law. It encompasses all shark and other chondrichthyan fisheries, both target and non-target fisheries, whether they be industrial, artisanal or traditional fisheries or fishing programmes designed to reduce risk of shark attack on humans.

The IPOA-Sharks is not a full strategic plan for the world, rather it prescribes a process whereby individual States, States participating in sub-regional arrangements through bilateral and multilateral agreements to manage shared transboundary shark stocks, and relevant regional fisheries management organizations (RFMO), identify national, subregional and regional issues and then develop national and regional ‘Shark Plans’ to address the issues.

The guiding principles of the IPOA-Sharks and the Guidelines are that States contributing to fishing mortality of a species or stock should participate in its conservation and management, and that, as a traditional and important source of food, employment and income, shark resources be used sustainably. The precautionary approach to conservation and management is embraced when the status of a resource is uncertain, such as when fishery data are insufficient or unreliable.

The Guidelines are intended to provide general advice and a framework for development and implementation of Shark Plans and Shark Assessment Reports prepared at national, subregional and regional levels. They are also intended to provide general advice and a framework for joint Shark Plans for shared transboundary species of shark. They cover the four elements (‘species conservation’, ‘biodiversity maintenance’, ‘habitat protection’ and ‘management for sustainable use’) of the IPOA-Sharks and the four dimensions (‘ecological’, ‘economic’, ‘social’ and ‘governance’) of the FAO ‘Sustainable Development Reference System’.

The Guidelines outline various needs at each of the subnational, national, subregional, regional and global levels. The needs include development of appropriate legal, institutional and management frameworks and provision of human resources and capacity building requirements. Fishery monitoring and research requirements are described, with emphasis on the urgent need for specialist training, species catalogues, field guides, dissemination of information, common databases for transboundary species, and agreed uniform criteria for classifying the conservation status of species and their stocks. Outlined are needs for fisheries management controls on catch and effort, protection of critical habitats, and establishment of fishing exclusion zones to provide sanctuaries for protecting rare species or depleted stocks. There is a need to encourage the release of sharks live or, where retained, their full utilization. Also, there is a need to promote the development of shark bycatch reduction devices. The required information for the development of national, subregional and regional Shark Plans and Shark Assessment Reports are presented.

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