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The objective of the IPOA-SHARKS is to ensure the conservation and management of sharks and their long-term sustainable use.


  • States should implement a national programme for conservation and management of shark stocks if their vessels conduct directed fisheries for sharks or if their vessels regularly catch sharks in non-directed fisheries. Suggested contents of the Shark-plan, which would form the basis of a management programme are found in Appendix A. When developing a Shark-plan, experience of subregional and regional fisheries management organizations should be taken into account, as appropriate.
  • Each State is responsible for developing, implementing and monitoring its Shark-plan.
  • States should carry out a regular assessment of the status of shark stocks subject to fishing so as to determine if there is a need for development of a shark plan. This assessment should be guided by article 6.13 of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The assessment should be reported as a part of each relevant State's Shark-plan. The assessment would necessitate consistent collection of data, including inter alia commercial data and data leading to improved species identification and, ultimately, the establishment of abundance indices. Data collected by States should, where appropriate, be made available to, and discussed within the framework of, relevant subregional and regional fisheries organizations and FAO. International collaboration on data collection and data sharing systems for stock assessments is particularly important in relation to transboundary, straddling, highly migratory and high seas shark stocks.Suggested contents of a shark assessment report
    • Past and present trends for:
      • Effort: directed and non-directed fisheries; all types of fisheries
      • Yield: physical and economic
    • Status of stocks
    • Existing management measures:
      • Control of access to fishing grounds
      • Technical measures (including by-catch reduction measures, the existence of sanctuaries and closed seasons)
      • Others
      • Monitoring, control and surveillance
    • Effectiveness of management measures
    • Possible modifications of management measures
  • The Shark-plan should aim to:
    • Ensure that shark catches from directed and non-directed fisheries are sustainable
    • Assess threats to shark populations, determine and protect critical habitats and implement harvesting strategies consistent with the principles of biological sustainability and rational long-term economic use
    • Identify and provide special attention, in particular to vulnerable or threatened shark stocks
    • Improve and develop frameworks for establishing and co-ordinating effective consultation involving all stakeholders in research, management and educational initiatives within and between States
    • Minimize unutilized incidental catches of sharks
    • Contribute to the protection of biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function
    • Minimize waste and discards from shark catches in accordance with article 7.2.2.(g) of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (for example, requiring the retention of sharks from which fins are removed)
    • Encourage full use of dead sharks
    • Facilitate improved species-specific catch and landings data and monitoring of shark catches
    • Facilitate the identification and reporting of species-specific biological and trade data
  • States which implement the Shark-plan should regularly, at least every four years, assess its implementation for the purpose of identifying cost-effective strategies for increasing its effectiveness.
  • States which determine that a Shark-plan is not necessary should review that decision on a regular basis taking into account changes in their fisheries, but as a minimum, data on catches, landings and trade should be collected.
  • States, within the framework of their respective competencies and consistent with international law, should strive to cooperate through regional and subregional fisheries organizations or arrangements, and other forms of cooperation, with a view to ensuring the sustainability of shark stocks, including, where appropriate, the development of subregional or regional shark plans.
  • Where transboundary, straddling, highly migratory and high seas stocks of sharks are exploited by two or more States, the States concerned should strive to ensure effective conservation and management of the stocks.
  • States should strive to collaborate through FAO and through international arrangements in research, training and the production of information and educational material.
  • States should report on the progress of the assessment, development and implementation of their Shark-plans as part of their biennial reporting to FAO on the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries.
  • FAO will, as and to the extent directed by its Conference, and as part of its Regular Programme activities, support States in the implementation of the IPOA-SHARKS, including the preparation of Shark-plans.
  • FAO will, as and to the extent directed by its Conference, support development and implementation of Shark-plans through specific, in-country technical assistance projects with Regular Programme funds and by use of extra-budgetary funds made available to the Organization for this purpose. FAO will assist in identifing experts as required and possible means of technical assistance to national departments of fisheries countries in connection with the implementation of Shark fishery management programmes
  • FAO will, through COFI, report biennially on the state of progress in the implementation of the IPOA-SHARKS.

Legal foundation

The IPOA-SHARKS is voluntary. It has been elaborated within the framework of the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries as envisaged by Article 2 (d). All concerned States are encouraged to implement it.

Legal text of IPOA-SHARKS


The IPOAs are to be implemented by countries. As a consequence, their implementation should be funded by countries. The FAO Regular Programme funds only a "watching brief" on implementation, and the monitoring of the implementation and reporting to COFI.  

Through its "International Conservation and Management of Fishery Resources" project, FAO also receives from the Government of Japan extra-budgetary funds to support the implementation of some of the IPOAs.

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