The war on sharks has spread to the European Union.

Blue shark. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Blue shark. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

A new report says that as many as four million of these ancient fish, mainly blues and makos, are being caught every year in the North Atlantic.

Apparently, the collapse of the tuna fishery has caused long-line fishermen from Spain and Portugal who use baited lines strung out for up to 60 miles, to target areas where sharks congregate on their migratory routes at the confluence of warm and cool currents.

Indeed, landings of blue sharks reported by the EU fleet have tripled since 2003, with Spain responsible for more than 80 per cent.

The size of the catch helps explain why shark numbers have been plummeting so rapidly worldwide. The yearly global catch of sharks — estimated at upwards of 100 million — has long worried conservationists and fisheries experts.

The report was compiled by researchers from Plymouth’s Marine Biological Association which tagged and tracked 100 sharks and compared their movements with those of several hundred long-line vessels.

The commercial long-line fishery is largely unregulated. A major market is in the Far East where shark fin soup is an expensive delicacy.

Source: Wildlife Extra.