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NOAA cracks down on maiming of sharks

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WASHINGTON (AP) — To curb the illegal practice of removing shark fins at sea, U.S. officials announced Thursday that all sharks caught in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico must be brought ashore with their fins attached.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also reduced by 85 percent the commercial fishing quota for the sandbar shark, a popular species for the Asian delicacy of shark fin soup. Recreational fishermen also will be banned from catching and keeping sandbar sharks.

The new rules, which also reduce and set quotas for some other sharks, will help rebuild populations, NOAA says. Sharks take years to mature and they produce few offspring, making them vulnerable to overfishing, said Jim Balsiger, an acting assistant administrator.