BRUSSELS (BELGIUM)- Finally shark finning is complety banned from European waters. The European parliament last Thursday called a definitive halt to the long contested practice of fishermen slicing off fins and throwing the live mutilated sharks overboard to drown.

Shark finning was prohibited by the EU already in 2003 but an exemption allowed fishermen with special permits to remove the fins from their carcass out at sea and bring back the remainders or land them in different ports.

In March, fisheries ministers endorsed a proposal to force fishermen to bring sharks to port intact, but the measure needed the approval of the parliament.

Marine conservation group Oceana applauded the move, saying it marked a key chapter for shark conservation. EU nations combined account for the second-largest share in shark finning, with 14 percent of the world’s catches.

“The measure closes long-standing enforcement loopholes in EU policy on shark finning, will improve the collection of valuable data about shark catches, and will help to prevent the trade of fins from threatened shark species,” it said in a statement.

Asia’s taste for shark fin soup is viewed as a key threat to sharks, with marine protection groups saying up to 73 million are killed annually to satisfy demand for the delicacy.