NOAA 2001-026
Contact: Stephanie Dorezas


Today NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, released a national voluntary plan of action for the conservation of sharks which outlines concrete and specific steps to improve the management and protection of this species throughout the United States.

The objective of the national plan is to develop measures that will better identify the status of and improve the management of sharks on a national level. These measures include prioritizing research needs, improving identification and reporting methods, limiting fishing capacity, and increasing outreach and education efforts. NOAA Fisheries developed the national plan in coordination with scientific and technical experts from federal and state agencies and independent scientists, as well as members of the public.

"We are concerned about the expanding catches of sharks and the negative impacts on shark populations," said NOAA Fisheries Acting Director Bill Hogarth. "This plan helps to address those concerns by spelling out specific goals that will serve as a road map to improving the conservation and management of sharks nationwide."

The national plan is a component of the international plan of action for the conservation of sharks that was developed at the November 1999 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization's Committee on Fisheries meeting. The plan addressed the need for FAO members with directed shark fisheries or bycatch of sharks to put into effect a voluntary comprehensive plan to better identify research needs, and identify priorities to effectively manage sharks at the national, regional, and global levels. The international plan calls for FAO members to develop and implement national plans by 2001.

The national plan serves as an overarching framework within which NOAA Fisheries, the Regional Fishery Management Councils, the Interstate Marine Fisheries Commissions, and appropriate state agencies will work together to conserve and manage sharks and related fisheries. The national plan supports the FAO's International Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. The code is the only international agreement that addresses practically all aspects of fisheries, including marine and freshwater, capture fisheries and aquaculture, and harvesting and shoreside operations.

The final version of the plan is available on the NOAA Fisheries Web site

Written requests for copies of the final plan should be sent to Margo Schulze-Haugen, Highly Migratory Species Management Division (F/SF1), National Marine Fisheries Service, 1315 East-West Highway, Silver Spring, MD 20910, or may be sent via facsimile (fax) to (301) 713-1917. For further information, contact Margo Schulze-Haugen or Karyl Brewster-Geisz, (301) 713-2347.