Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed legislation that prohibits the sale, trade or distribution of shark fins or derivative products in the state of Washington.

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Gov. Chris Gregoire has signed legislation that prohibits the sale, trade or distribution of shark fins or derivative products in the state of Washington.

Supporters including the Humane Society of the United States say Senate Bill 5688 reduces pressure on sharply declining populations of sharks. The group says more than 73 million sharks are killed each year mainly for their fins. The practice of finning involves slicing off the fins of a shark while it is still alive and discarding the severely wounded animal at sea.

State Senator Kevin Ranker of San Juan Island was the bill’s primary sponsor. The measure unanimously passed the Senate. The House voted 95 to 1 in favor of it.

Hawaii and Guam have passed similar measures. Proposed measures are being considered in Oregon and California.

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Shark fins often are used to make shark fin soup, a dish considered a status symbol at some restaurants.