BRUSSELS -- The European Union has taken a major step to protect sharks, banning the brutal practice of slicing off their fins before throwing the fish back into the sea to perish.
The European Parliament on Thursday voted with an overwhelming 566-47 margin to force all boats in EU waters and EU-registered boats around the world to land sharks with their fins attached and prove the animal had not been thrown back.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature says that about one third of sharks and rays are threatened both in EU waters and around the globe.
Uta Bellion of the Pew Environment Group says that "the parliament's vote is a major milestone in ending the wasteful practice of shark finning." EU nations are expected to back the rule soon.