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For instance, after Jan. 1, 2013, it will be illegal in Illinois to possess, sell, trade, or distribute a shark fin.
According to the Jacksonville, Illinois Journal-Courier, it's to keep people from killing sharks to make soup:
About 73 million sharks are killed each year, a large portion of them simply so their fins can be used to make shark fin soup, a Chinese dish often in demand at the most luxurious of events.
If the estimate given for the number of sharks killed seems high, it's because it's a wild overestimate. According to UN statistics, the world shark catch comes to about 750,000 metric tons per year. The 73 million number appears to come from a 2006 study (pdf) of the number of shark fins sold in Hong Kong fish markets, which was then generalized to the world total shark catch. The study also assumed, it appears, that sharks killed for their fins are never used for their skin, cartilage, or as food.
In fact, while the number of sharks in the world is not even known, the number killed or caught is probably closer to 30 million. The most widely cited study (pdf) on the topic states further that
...controls on finning are a blunt instrument that have no capacity to provide differential protection to those shark species most at risk from overfishing.
If direct controls on finning don't have much impact, then outlawing their sale in Illinois is an especially vain effort.
As if the shark fin law isn't absurd enough, there are 150 more such laws that take effect in Illinois January 1, 2013. For instance:
When Illinois state government overreaches and micromanages the affairs of the people, the will of those people to succeed falls away. That's a big danger of government growth and excess spending: with too much spending comes a need to justify the jobs of policy makers, even with unnecessary and counterproductive legislation.