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9-Year-Old Boy Convinces Massachusetts Lawmakers To Ban Shark Fin Trade

Today, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick will sign into law a bill outlawing the sale and possession of shark fins, a move aimed at preserving some of the oceans most endangered species. And while the new legislation is an important step forward for conservation, the inspiration behind it is just as remarkable.

That's because the bill may never have come to be if it weren't for the dedication of a 9-year-old boy named Sean Lesniak.

After learning that sharks around the world were being robbed of their fins, and in many cases tossed back into the ocean to die, to make shark fin soup, he devoted himself to help bring about an end to the brutal practice. Last year, Sean convinced his state representative to introduce legislation to crack down on the shark fin trade.

But he didn't stop there. After several months had passed without lawmakers taking action, Sean traveled to the capitol building to meet with them, handing out stuffed shark toys and urging them to stop neglecting the issue.

"I'm not really afraid of anything 'cause I'm doing something for the life of an animal," the third-grader told the Boston Herald at the time. "These are real, live animals. Can you imagine if your fins were cut off so you died?"

Earlier this month, the Massachusetts Senate approved the bill, becoming the ninth state in the country to outlaw shark fins -- and not a moment too soon. An estimated 100 million sharks are killed every year for their fins alone, driving some species to near-extinction.