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EEA Think TankFish belonging to the taxon Elasmobranchii, which includes sharks, skates, rays and similar species are generally very vulnerable to exploitation due to their life-cycle characteristics. Most of these species are often caught as by-catch in Community fishing activities directed to other more valuable species.

Current scientific knowledge, generally based on the examination of catch rates, indicates that many stocks of sharks are seriously under threat.

The practice of ‘shark finning’, whereby the fins are removed from sharks, with the remainder of the shark being discarded at sea, may contribute to the excessive mortality of sharks to such an extent that many stocks of sharks are depleted, and their future sustainability may be endangered.

Measures to restrict or prevent the further development of the practice of shark finning are urgently required, and the removal of shark fins on board vessels should therefore be prohibited. In view of the practical difficul- ties involved in the identification of species based on removed fins, this prohibition should apply to all Elas- mobranchii, except for the removal of ray wings.

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