Fischer, J., Erikstein, K., D'Offay, B., Barone, M. & Guggisberg, S. 2012.
Review of the Implementation of the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks. FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Circular No. 1076. Rome, FAO. 120 pp.
In 2011, the Conference on Fisheries requested FAO to prepare a report on the implementation of the 1999 FAO International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks by FAO Members, and the challenges Members faced when implementing the instrument. This document provides the requested review and includes information on National Plans of Action (NPOAs), for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, national fisheries regulations in general and measures applicable to sharks including research, data collection and reporting. In addition, membership of relevant regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and status of adopting the Port State Measures Agreement are included.
This review focuses on the 26 top shark-fishing countries, areas and territories determined as those reporting at least 1 percent of global shark catches during the decade from 2000 to 2009: Indonesia, India, Spain, Taiwan Province of China, Argentina, Mexico, the United States of America, Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan, France, Thailand, Brazil, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, Portugal, Nigeria, Iran (Islamic Republic of), the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Republic of Korea, Canada, Peru, Australia, Yemen, Senegal and Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of). This review also considered shark action plans and measures from the European Union (Member Organization) and ten RFMOs.
Eighty-four (84) percent of the global shark catches reported to FAO from 2000 to 2009 was from the 26 top shark-fishing countries, areas and territories. Overall, global reported annual shark catches during this decade show a significant decline of almost 20 percent from about 900 000 tonnes to about 750 000 tonnes. The review shows that 18 of the 26 top shark fishing countries, areas and territories have adopted an NPOA Sharks and that an additional 5 of these countries are in the process of adopting or developing such a plan.
Among the most commonly adopted management measures for sharks are shark fin measures; but other regulations have also been implemented such as closed areas and season, by-catch/discard regulations, protected species, total allowable catches (TAC) and quotas, special reporting requirements and others. Data collection and research on sharks is lacking in many regions. Overall, the reporting of shark catches to FAO has improved in the last decade. Shark catches reported at species level doubled from 14 percent in 1995 to 29 percent in 2010.
Most of the top shark-fishing countries, areas and territories have taken steps to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, either by signing the FAO Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA) (46 percent) or at least by adopting an NPOA IUU or similar plan (23 percent). Only five (20 percent) of the top 26 shark-fishing countries, areas and territories have not adopted an NPOA Sharks, signed the PSMA or implemented an NPOA IUU. Nonetheless, in quite a few countries the effective implementation of MCS schemes is problematic, often because of a lack of human and financial resources.
All but one of the top shark-fishing countries, areas and territories are members of at least one RFMO. In particular, shark measures adopted by tuna bodies are binding in their areas of competence for all their member States that have not objected to the measure in question.
The array of shark measures adopted by the RFMOs may vary from binding recommendations or resolutions to non-binding measures, as in the case of the Commission for the Conservation of Southern Bluefin Tuna (CCSBT). They include shark fin measures, catch and gear regulations, prohibited species, area closures, reporting requirements and research programmes. This means that in all but one area covered by RFBs there are internationally binding shark measures in place for high seas fisheries.