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Gov. Deval Patrick has signed a bill outlawing the possession or distribution of shark fins in Massachusetts.
Supporters of the ban say shark fins are often removed for use in soup while the rest of the shark is thrown back in the sea, still alive. They call the practice inhumane.
Patrick signed the bill Thursday at the New England Aquarium.
The governor credited conservationists and animal welfare activists who pushed for the bill, including 9-year-old Sean Lesniak of Lowell, who took an interest in the subject and visited the Statehouse to urge lawmakers to approve the ban.
Patrick said the law will primarily affect distributors and retailers of imported shark fins, with little impact on commercial fishing.
Violators could face up to 60 days in jail or fines of up to $1,000 per fin.