The European Union on Thursday sought to block fishermen from slashing off shark fins and dumping the fish back into the water, closing a loophole in its existing rules.
Environmentalists warn shark populations are in jeopardy as ships scoop them up solely for their fins, prized in Asia for the expensive delicacy of shark fin soup. Some fishermen hack off the fins because the shark body is much less valued, a practice shunned by conservation groups as wasteful and inhumane.
The European bloc has banned shark finning for nearly a decade but had allowed some vessels to remove fins at sea if they showed they could use all parts of the shark. Spain and Portugal used the loophole most often, according to the EU. Activists complained that because ships could take carcasses and fins to different ports, it was difficult to detect if they were dumping the bodies.
Now sharks must land at ports with their fins still attached, the European Parliament decided Thursday. Lawmakers overwhelmingly backed the resolution, with 566 out of 629 voting in favor.