Friday, April 25, 2008

USA to end controversial shark 'finning'

Sometimes there's good news for sharks. This would be one of those days.

The oceans just got a little safer for sharks. Fishermen must bring their shark catches to shore with fins still attached, the US fisheries service has decided.

The new rule, put forward last week, aims to prevent fishermen from slicing fins off vulnerable species and discarding the rest at sea.

"Finning", as the practice is known, is illegal in the US and elsewhere, but the ban is difficult to enforce. Right now, fishermen may land piles of fins separate from shark bodies, so long as the fins weigh less than 5% of the total catch.

Shark meat fetches much lower prices than do fins, which are the main ingredient in the prized Asian soup. The discrepancy encourages cheating as it is hard to identify the species of a shark based solely on its fins.

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