Major world fisheries for elasmobranchs are described in this publication. It examines their importance, recent trends, problems for assessment and management, and future prospects. According to reported catches from the last 15 years, sharks account for almost 60 per cent of the world elasmobranch catch, while skates and rays account for almost 40 per cent. 26 countries have major elasmobranch fisheries, with present or recent catches of sharks and rays exceeding 10,000 tonnes per year. The need for conservation is discussed and possible solutions proposed.