DOI: 10.1111/faf.12788 ISSN:

Global governance guard rails for sharks: Progress towards implementing the United Nations international plan of action

Eric Gilman, Milani Chaloupka, Nathan Taylor, Lauren Nelson, Kim Friedman, Hilario Murua
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Oceanography


There is growing concern over the conservation status of sharks and relatives exposed to fishing mortality. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1999 adopted the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA), which provides nations with advice on adopting and implementing national plans. An assessment of global national and regional plans of action on sharks (NPOAs) found that: most are out of date; limited use of specific, measurable and timebound objectives and activities; no outcome objectives; and few performance assessments. This makes most NPOAs inadequate for planning and assessing efficacy. Over 33% of the annual retained catch of sharks and relatives was from countries without NPOAs and less than 12% was from countries with current NPOAs. NPOAs identified fisheries management framework deficits, ecology knowledge gaps, institutional capacity and coordination shortfalls, and budget constraints as the largest obstacles to implementation and are improvement priorities. We recommend how to amend the IPOA to better support the adoption and effective design and implementation of NPOAs for evidence‐informed conservation and management.

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