Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page


3.1 National and sub-national legal and institutional frameworks
3.2 Regional and sub-regional institutional frameworks
3.3 Global institutional frameworks

Implementation of the IPOA-Sharks presupposes a minimum set of institutional arrangements and recurrent activities at local, sub-national, national, sub-regional, regional and global levels. States, RFMOs and other entities engaged in fisheries management should, through appropriate policy, legal and institutional frameworks, adopt measures for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of shark fishery resources. Conservation and management measures should be based on the best scientific evidence available and be designed to ensure the long-term sustainability of shark fishery resources. The resources should be maintained at levels that promote the objective of their optimum utilization and maintain their availability for present and future generations; short-term considerations should not compromise these objectives.

To be effective, management of shark fisheries has to be concerned with the whole stock units over their entire areas of distribution. The best scientific evidence available should be used to determine the area of distribution of the resource and the area through which fish in the stock migrates during its life cycle. Where a stock falls entirely within the Exclusive Economic Zone of a single nation then that resource can be managed under the single jurisdiction of that nation. However, where a stock is distributed in the EEZs of more than one nation or where it is distributed on the high seas, jurisdictional arrangements are more complex. Such shared or transboundary straddling stocks can only be managed through bilateral and multilateral arrangements or RFMOs.

All countries are free to fish the high seas and regulation is beyond the control of any individual country. To enable cooperative management for sustainable use of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks, a United Nations treaty was established. This treaty is the Agreement for the Implementation of the United Nations Convention on the law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 Relating to the Convention and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks. It is also referred to as the UN Fish Stocks Agreement. Ratification of the Agreement by nations provides rights, obligations and fisheries management principles for the long-term conservation and sustainable use of straddling and highly migratory fish stocks. The Agreement implements a framework for greater cooperation between fishing nations, including through RFMOs. It will provide rights to member nations of RFMOs to board and inspect fishing vessels on the high seas to check compliance with regionally agreed conservation and management measures. Nations signing the Agreement signal their acceptance of the principles of the Agreement.

‘Flag State responsibility’ is a principle of international law and is reinforced by the UN Fish Stocks Agreement. The national law that applies to a vessel on the high seas is the law of the country whose flag the vessel is entitled to carry. This is termed the ‘flag State’. If there is any infringement of rules, the flag State of the vessel concerned is responsible for undertaking investigation and appropriate enforcement action.

3.1 National and sub-national legal and institutional frameworks

States endorsing the IPOA-Sharks should develop, as appropriate, institutional, policy and legal frameworks to achieve the conservation of sharks and other chondrichthyans and sustainable use of shark resources and to govern access to them, taking account of the comparatively low productivity and finite nature of shark resources. In conformity with these frameworks and their national and sub-national laws, States should implement appropriate effective shark fishery monitoring, research, management, surveillance and law enforcement measures including, where appropriate, observer programmes, inspection schemes and vessel monitoring systems. Such measures should be promoted and, where appropriate, implemented in accordance with procedures agreed through bilateral or multilateral arrangements or RFMOs.

States should provide facilities and promote monitoring and research in support of shark fishery assessment and management and species conservation, including research on the resources and the effects of climatic, environmental and socioeconomic factors. The results of such research should be disseminated to all interested parties. Studies should be promoted to provide an understanding of the costs, benefits and effects of alternative management options designed to rationalize shark catches and levels of fishing effort.

Effective coordination of implementation of the IPOA-Sharks at the national level through development of Shark Plans and ongoing Shark Assessments requires a structure, a definition of roles, an agreed process and mobilization of resources. The process should ensure that representatives of the various fisheries sectors, fishing communities, non government organizations and other interested parties are consulted in the decision-making process and involved in other activities related to shark conservation and shark fishery management planning and development. The process should promote the creation of public awareness of the need for the management of shark resources and the participation in the management process by those affected.

3.2 Regional and sub-regional institutional frameworks

States endorsing the IPOA-Sharks accept that international cooperation is essential for its successful implementation. Responsibilities under existing bilateral and multilateral sub-regional arrangements and RFMOs should be extended to include, or give higher priority to, shark fisheries. Where necessary, to manage fisheries harvesting shared or transboundary stocks, new regional and sub-regional agreements should be established.

Conservation and management measures should be established for transboundary shark stocks, straddling shark stocks, highly migratory shark stocks and high seas shark stocks throughout their range, in accordance with the respective competencies of relevant States or, where appropriate, through bilateral and multilateral arrangements and RFMOs; the measures should be compatible. There needs to be agreement on the means by which the activities of such organizations and arrangements will be financed, bearing in mind, inter alia, the relative benefits derived from the shark fishery and the differing capacities of countries to provide financial and other contributions. Where appropriate, and where possible, such organizations and arrangements should aim to recover the costs of monitoring, research, management, surveillance and enforcement.

States that are members of RFMOs participating in bilateral and multilateral sub-regional arrangements should implement internationally agreed measures adopted in the framework of such organizations or arrangements and consistent with international laws. It is particularly important to deter the activities of vessels flying the flag of non-members or non-participants which engage in activities that undermine the effectiveness of conservation and management measures established by such organizations or arrangements. Modification of bilateral and multilateral arrangements and of the statutes of RFMOs to accommodate work on conservation and management of sharks will be pursued by FAO without any additional expense, and carried out mostly by the concerned organizations at the behest of their member countries.

The Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission (IATTC), the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES), the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT), the Latin American Organization for Fishery Development (OLDEPESCA), the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) and South Pacific Commission (SPC) have recently initiated efforts encouraging member countries to collect information about sharks.

3.3 Global institutional frameworks

A mechanism will be established by FAO to coordinate the international collaboration required for developing and implementing the IPOA-Sharks. Through this mechanism national governments and RFMOs will be encouraged to develop and implement Shark Plans and undertake Shark Assessments under legislation applicable in the regions of their jurisdictions and, where appropriate, under existing bilateral, multilateral and international protocols, conventions and agreements.

Previous Page Top of Page Next Page