The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) is an environmental treaty of the United Nations.

It’s a framework convention with legally binding treaties (Agreements) and Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) for species that cross national boundaries. CMS serves as an intergovernmental platform to bring Range States (nations with jurisdiction over any part of the species range) together to agree internationally coordinated conservation measures throughout the migratory ranges of species listed under CMS.

CMS Sharks MOU

The CMS Sharks MOU is a global agreement under the auspices of CMS, which aims to maintain and achieve a favourable conservation status for migratory sharks and rays. The MoU is non-binding. A Conservation Plan outlines key objectives, and in pursuing activities described, Signatories should endeavour to cooperate through Regional Fisheries Management Organisations (RFMOs) and other treaties.

The Shark Trust is a Cooperating Partner to the CMS Sharks MOU, which means we support the Signatories, Range States, and the Secretariat in meeting the objectives of the Sharks MOU.


Species can be listed on two Appendices:

Appendix I – includes species that are considered endangered throughout all or a significant portion of their range. Parties that are a Range State to Appendix I listed species should endeavour to strictly protect them.

Appendix II – includes migratory species that have an unfavourable conservation status and require international agreements (e.g. MOUs, Action Plans, Species Initiatives). Parties are committed to work towards conservation and management of Appendix II listed species.

Sharks and rays listed on Appendix I:

  • Oceanic Whitetip Carcharhinus longimanus (2020)

Sharks and rays listed on both Appendix I and II:

  • Whale Shark Rhincodon typus (App I in 2017, App II in 1999)
  • White Shark Carcharodon carcharias (2002)
  • Basking Shark Cetorhinus maximus (2005)
  • Sawfishes - Narrow Sawfish Anoxypristis cuspidata (2014), Dwarf Sawfish Pristis clavata (2014), Smalltooth Sawfish Pristis pectinata (2014), Largetooth Sawfish Pristis pristis (2014), Green Sawfish Pristis zijsron (2014)
  • Mobulas - Giant Manta Ray Manta birostris (2011), Reef Manta Ray Manta alfredi (2014), Pygmy Devil Ray Mobula eregoodootenkee (2014), Atlantic Devil Ray Mobula hypostoma (2014), Spinetail Mobula Mobula japanica (2014), Shortfin Devil Ray Mobula kuhlii (2014), Giant Devil Ray Mobula mobular (2014), Pygmy Devil Ray Mobula munkiana (2014), Lesser Guinean Devil Ray Mobula rochebrunei (2014), Chilean Devil Ray Mobula tarapacana (2014), Bentfin Devil Ray Mobula thurstoni (2014)
  • Angelshark Squatina squatina (2017)
  • Common Guitarfish Rhinobatos rhinobatos (Mediterranean) (2017)

Sharks and rays listed on Appendix II:

  • Makos - Shortfin Mako Shark Isurus oxyrinchus (2008), Longfin Mako Shark Isurus paucus (2008)
  • Porbeagle Lamna nasus (2008)
  • Spiny Dogfish Squalus acanthias (2008)
  • Thresher sharks - Pelagic Thresher Shark Alopias pelagicus (2014), Bigeye Thresher Shark Alopias superciliosus (2014), Common Thresher Shark Alopias vulpinus (2014)
  • Hammerheads - Scalloped Hammerhead Sphyrna lewini (2014) Great Hammerhead Sphyrna mokarran (2014)
  • Silky Shark Carcharhinus falciformis
  • Common Guitarfish Rhinobatos rhinobatos (2017)
  • Bottlenose Wedgefish Rhynchobatus australiae (2017)
  • Dusky Shark Carcharhinus obscurus (2017)
  • Blue Shark Prionace glauca (2017)
  • Tope Galeorhinus galeus (2020)
  • Smooth Hammerhead Sphyrna zygaena (2020)

All the above species are also listed on the CMS Sharks MOU, with the exception of the Blue Shark, Tope and Smooth Hammerhead.


CMS Sharks MOU listings can be accompanied by a Concerted Actions document outlining priority conservation measures, projects, or institutional arrangements to improve the conservation status of selected species/groups of species. They either a) involve measures that are the collective responsibility of Parties acting in concert; or b) are designed to support the conclusion of an instrument under Article IV of the Convention and enable conservation measures to be progressed in the meantime, or represent an alternative to such an instrument.

The Concerted Action for Angelsharks provides a framework of activities which reflect those outlined in the Eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Angel Shark Conservation Strategy.


CMS Parties are obligated to strictly protect Appendix I listed species and work internationally toward conservation of those listed on Appendix II. Despite this, most CMS Parties continue to fall short in this regard. In addition, there has been inadequate regional progress through fisheries bodies for those sharks and rays listed on Appendix II, leaving many of the listed species with insufficient protection.

Together with our partners, we continue to urge Parties to focus on effective implementation of listings, including existing obligations for the many sharks and rays listed. Overfishing must be directly addressed to secure a future for these vulnerable species.

Related Links:

► CMS website

► CMS Sharks MOU website

Sharks Ahead: Realizing the Potential of the Convention on Migratory Species to Conserve Elasmobranchs (pdf)

Banner image ©Morten Bjorn Larsen