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Spanish hotel giant signs up to shark fin ban

Spain's biggest hotel chain Melia Hotels International said on Monday it has removed shark fins from the menu of all of its restaurants around the world, joining a growing global campaign against the dish considered a delicacy in Asia.

Spanish hotel giant signs up to shark fin ban
An Indonesian fisherman cuts the fin of a shark in Lampulo fish market in Banda Aceh in Aceh province in 2013. File photo: Chaideer Mahyuddin

"With the removal of shark fin as an ingredient, Melia contributes to the protection of the important role sharks have in maintaining balance in marine ecosystems," the company said in a statement.

"As predators, sharks are a key species in the food chain and also indicators of the health of our oceans. They eliminate the weakest prey, maintain balance with competitors, and guarantee the diversity of species," it added.

Melia, which runs more than 350 hotels in 40 countries, making it one of the world's largest hotel companies, said the ban on shark fins would also apply to all events held in its facilities.

Shark fins are highly prized by many in Asia, especially in Hong Kong and China where shark fin soup is commonly served at wedding banquets and corporate parties.

Environmental activists have for years campaigned against shark finning, in which the fins are sliced off sharks, often while they are alive, before the fish are thrown back into the ocean to die.

They say it is cruel, and a threat to sea life and the preservation of the oceans, and has led to overfishing, with many shark species now considered endangered.

Melia is the latest among a string of companies to boycott shark fin consumption in recent years following lobbying by conservationists.

The US-owned Marina Bay Sands casino in Singapore, part of Las Vegas gaming magnate Sheldon Adelson's portfolio, announced in June it would stop serving shark fin at its restaurants.

Thai Airways announced last week that it had stopped flying shark fin cargoes, bringing the carrier in line with a number of other Asian carriers including Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific and Philippine Airlines.

More than 70 million sharks are killed worldwide every year, with a majority of fins consumed in Chinese markets, according to environmental group WWF.

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FISH

Holidaymaker left bleeding and with severed tendon after fish bite on Costa Blanca beach

A holidaymaker has released photos of a horrible injury she received when she was bitten while swimming off a beach in Elche, Alicante.

Holidaymaker left bleeding and with severed tendon after fish bite on Costa Blanca beach
Image of injury after it was stitched up at Elche hospital Photo: Ayuntamiento de Elche

The 40-year-old Spanish woman let out a blood curdling scream and was dragged bleeding from the sea by her husband and a lifeguard who came to her aid while she was swimming with her five-year-old son on DAY.

“She felt a great pain,” her husband told local newspaper El Informacion. “And let out a scream that scared us all.”

She was paddling in shallow water which came to just below the knee and at first, she presumed she had stepped on broken glass.

But she was taken to hospital medical staff said it was clear that the injuries were sustained by a fish bite.

She was treated for a partially severed tendon in her foot as well as several other cuts that required stitches.

She was discharged several hours later and left the hospital on crutches and with a bandaged lower leg.

The couple from Valladolid in northern Spain  were on the last day of their holiday, staying at a campsite near El Rebollo beach in Elche on the Costa Blanca.

 Lifeguard service together with local police patrolled the beach looking for the culprit and caught a large Bluefish, which they believe was responsible for the incident.

Known as Pez Golfar in Spanish, the species (Latin name Pomatomus saltatrix) can measure between half a meter to a meter in length and is commonly found in Mediterranean waters.

It does not normally attack people but preys on smaller fish in the shallow water.


Image of a bluefish, the likely culprit. Photo: Wikimedia

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