What is the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks?
The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks, also referred to as the Sharks MoU, was developed under the auspices of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS).
This Memorandum is the first of its kind regarding sharks. It's a global Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), and it aims to conserve migratory sharks wherever they occur in the world.
The Sharks MoU commenced on 1 March 2010, with the original signatory countries being the Congo, Costa Rica, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Palau, the Philippines, Senegal, Togo and the United States. Nauru and Tuvalu signed the Memorandum on 9 September 2010.
Australia became the 14th country to sign the Sharks MoU, signing on 4 February 2011.
What species are covered?
There are currently seven shark species covered by the Sharks MoU: white shark, whale shark, basking shark, porbeagle, shortfin mako, longfin mako and the northern hemisphere populations of spiny dogfish.
Six out of these seven species occur in Australian waters - the white shark, whale shark, basking shark, porbeagle, shortfin mako and longfin mako.
The intent of the Sharks MoU
The objective of the Sharks MoU is to achieve and maintain a favourable conservation status for the seven shark species, which includes ensuring healthy and viable populations of these species remain in their existing habitats.
The Sharks MoU seeks to promote cooperation and information-sharing between countries that have signed the MoU.
Action under the Sharks MoU aims to improve understanding of migratory shark populations, key pressures and key habitats, and current and future actions to conserve these species.
What does this mean for Australia?
By becoming a signatory to the Sharks MoU, Australia will work closely with other signatories to share information on these shark species that may be vital to their conservation world-wide.
What does the Sharks MoU mean for Australian fishers?
Management arrangements currently in place for the six shark species that occur in Australian waters will NOT change following Australia's signing of the Sharks MoU.
The current arrangements for the taking of white shark, whale shark and basking shark will remain in place - which means these species can not be taken by any fishery operating in Australian waters, either commercial or recreational.
Similarly, the existing arrangements for the porbeagle, shortfin mako and longfin mako - which can be taken in a number of fisheries, both commercial and recreational - will remain unchanged.
Australia has in place appropriate management arrangements that take into account the status of species such as the porbeagle, shortfin mako and longfin mako.
For further information on the management arrangements for these three shark species, please see the fact sheet on the legislative changes for recreational fishing of three shark species: Three sharks listed as migratory species under the EPBC Act
As one of the aims of the Sharks MoU is to improve information-sharing between countries, work will continue with Commonwealth and state fisheries management agencies to improve data collection for mako and porbeagle sharks - thus enhancing the quality of data Australia shares with the other signatories to the Sharks MoU.
Where can I find the text for the Sharks MoU?
The Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation of Migratory Sharks (in English) is available on the Convention of Migratory Species website at: www.cms.int/species/sharks/MoU/Migratory_Shark_ MoU_Eng.pdf