European Elasmobranch AssociationChondrichthyan fishes constitute a class within the zoological classification which includes the cartilaginous fish commonly named sharks, skates, rays and chimaeras. The skates and the rays, or batoids, are flattened shark-like fish.

The Action Plan for the Conservation of Chondrichthyan Fishes in the Mediterranean Sea is in line with :
1) the Barcelona Convention adopted by the Mediterranean countries, in particular the Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Biological Diversity in the Mediterranean;
2) the International Plan of Action for the Conservation and Management of Sharks (IPOA-Sharks) proposed by FAO and adopted by the UN member states in 1999 [Note: in the FAO documents ‘sharks’ is used for chondrichthyans];
3) the UN Fish Stocks Agreement (UN Agreement on Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks) in effect since 11th December 2001;
4) paragraph 31 of the Implementation Plan of the Resolution of the World Summit for Sustainable Development adopted in Johannesburg in September 2002.

In the implementation of the IPOA-Sharks, the Mediterranean Action Plan for the Conservation of Chondrichthyan Fishes constitutes a proposal for regional strategies, pointing out priorities and actions to be undertaken at national and regional level, since regional coordination is needed to ensure implementation of conservation measures. The IPOA-Sharks suggests that member states of the FAO should develop national action plans when their fishing fleets conduct target or by-catch fisheries for sharks. With regard to this recommendation, the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention are strongly urged to elaborate national action plans according to the priorities herein defined, in order to ensure the conservation, management and long-term sustainable use of the chondrichthyan resources in their environment.

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