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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European parliament backed a blanket ban on shark finning, in which the fins are sliced off sharks, often while they are alive, and their carcasses dumped in the sea.

A surge in demand for shark fins, mostly for soup in Asia, has threatened various species of the predators, which have a vital role in maintaining the balance of marine ecosystems.

The ban, proposed a year ago by the European Commission, would forbid shark finning by all vessels in EU waters and by all EU-registered vessels operating anywhere in the world.

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