Illinois became the first inland state, fifth in the U.S., to pass a comprehensive ban against the trade, sale or distribution of shark fins on Sunday.

Gov. Pat Quinn signed the law at the Shedd Aquarium's Wild Reef, which is home to several species of sharks.

Shedd Aquarium President and CEO Ted Beattie said that millions of sharks are killed annually, often just to harvest their fins, the Associated Press reports.

In January, state Rep. Sara Feigenholtz (D-Chicago) introduced a proposed shark fin ban that would amend the city's Fish and Aquatic Life Code to outlaw the controversial practice, spurred in part by Asian culinary traditions. Feigenholtz drafted the bill with the help of the Illinois Humane Society and the Center for Oceanic Awareness, Research and Education, both of which are campaigning nationwide against the sale of shark fins.

The bill, HB 4119, easily cleared the Illinois House and Senate this spring.

Illinois is the first non-Pacific state to pass such a ban, but that doesn't mean the midwestern region doesn't contribute to the shark finning problem: Oceana, an ocean conservation group, reports that Illinois is a large importer of shark fins, with restaurants including many in Chinatown serving shark fin soup and other dishes. According to the group, some shark populations have declined by as much as 99 percent in recent decades because of fin harvesting.

Last fall, California became the fourth state to ban the sale, trade and possession of shark fins over some objections that some Asian cultures consider shark fin soup a delicacy. Hawaii, Washington and Oregon -- as well as Guam -- have also banned shark fin.

Early last year, President Obama signed into law the Shark Conservation Act, which closed previous loopholes which had allowed some fishermen to continue to legally fin sharks. The European Commission also has proposed a shark finning ban covering all EU waters.

“The unsustainable demand for shark fins has had a devastating impact on shark populations worldwide, and this decisive action makes it clear: Illinois will no longer contribute to this wasteful cruelty,” Kristen Strawbridge, Illinois state director for The Humane Society, said in a statement.

“We thank Governor Quinn for signing this bill into law and making Illinois the first Midwestern state to join the international movement to protect sharks by shutting down the market for shark fins," Strawbridge continued.

Check out some of the advances made in the fight against the shark fin trade last year, from Pew Environment Group Director Matt Rand:

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  • January: Shark Conservation Act Signed

    The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/pew-applauds-commonwealth-of-northern-mariana-islands-ban-on-shark-finning-8589941463" target="_hplink">bans the possession, sale, and distribution of shark fins</a>. The law also forbids the landing of sharks at all ports within the archipelago. Coupled with the U.S. Shark Conservation Act, this also bans the retention of all sharks in the waters of this U.S. territory. (Photo: Shawn Heinrichs)

  • January: CNMI Shark Fin Ban

    The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/pew-applauds-commonwealth-of-northern-mariana-islands-ban-on-shark-finning-8589941463" target="_hplink">bans the possession, sale, and distribution of shark fins</a>. The law also forbids the landing of sharks at all ports within the archipelago. Coupled with the U.S. Shark Conservation Act, this also bans the retention of all sharks in the waters of this U.S. territory. (Photo: Shawn Heinrichs)

  • June: Micronesia Moves Toward Sanctuary

    The Association of Pacific Island Legislatures <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/pacific-island-countries-step-up-shark-conservation-efforts-85899361166" target="_hplink">issues a resolution</a> stressing the need for additional action to protect sharks. Shortly thereafter, leaders at the Micronesian Chief Executive Summit begin the process to <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/pew-applauds-pacific-island-leaders-call-for-regional-shark-sanctuary-85899362677" target="_hplink">create a regional sanctuary</a> where shark fishing would be prohibited. (Photo: David Fleetham)

  • June: The Association of Pacific Island LegislaturesCreates Shark Sanctuary

    The Association of Pacific Island Legislatures <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/pacific-island-countries-step-up-shark-conservation-efforts-85899361166" target="_hplink">issues a resolution</a> stressing the need for additional action to protect sharks. Shortly thereafter, leaders at the Micronesian Chiefs Executive Summit begin the process of <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/pew-applauds-pacific-island-leaders-call-for-regional-shark-sanctuary-85899362677" target="_hplink">creating a regional sanctuary</a> where shark fishing would be prohibited.

  • June: Honduras Creates Shark Sanctuary

    <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/honduran-president-lobo-sosa-announces-permanent-shark-sanctuary-85899361157" target="_hplink">Honduran President Lobo Sosa creates a shark sanctuary</a> in the country’s waters. This area, approximately the size of the United Kingdom, is now off limits to all shark fishing. Here, Pew's Jill Hepp presents President Lobo Sosa with an award for his conservation efforts. (Photo: Devon Stephens, Roatan Photography)

  • July: Bahamas Creates Shark Sanctuary

    The Bahamas <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/bahamas-acts-to-protect-sharks-85899361467" target="_hplink">prohibits all commercial shark fishing</a> in the country’s waters. Shark-related tourism has contributed more than $800 million to the Bahamian economy over the past 20 years, and this decision reinforces research that <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/reports/million-dollar-reef-sharks-85899359220" target="_hplink">sharks are worth more alive than dead</a>. (Photo: Stuart Cove's Dive Bahamas)

  • July: Oceanic White Tip Sharks Receive Protections

    Members of the Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission agree to <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/sharks-caught-in-the-jaws-of-tuna-fisheries-85899361399" target="_hplink">protect oceanic white tip sharks</a> in the eastern Pacific. Formerly widespread and abundant, this species has suffered dramatic declines, partially due to the tuna fisheries in which they live. (Photo: Tahiti Private Expeditions)

  • August: Chile Bans Shark Finning

    <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/pew-salutes-chilean-ban-on-shark-finning-85899362910" target="_hplink">Chile bans shark finning</a> and requires all ships catching sharks to land them with their fins naturally attached. (Photo: Chris and Monique Fellows)

  • September: Tokelau Creates Shark Sanctuary

    Tokelau, a self-administering territory of New Zealand comprised of three atolls in the South Pacific, <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/tokelau-declares-shark-sanctuary-85899363741" target="_hplink">declares itself a shark, whale, and turtle sanctuary</a>. (Map courtesy of CIA)

  • September: Marshall Islands Creates World's Largest Shark Sanctuary

    The Republic of the Marshall Islands establishes the <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/worlds-largest-shark-sanctuary-declared-in-central-pacific-85899364555" target="_hplink">world’s largest shark sanctuary</a>, which covers an ocean area four times the landmass of California.

  • November: Silky Sharks Gain Protections

    The 48-member International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas agrees to <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/media-coverage/tuna-fishing-countries-vow-to-protect-shark-85899366679" target="_hplink">ban the retention of silky sharks</a> accidentally caught in fishing gear. Between half a million and one and a half million <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/fact-sheets/silky-sharks-85899366022" target="_hplink">silky sharks</a> are traded annually for their fins. (Photo: Andy Murch)

  • December: UN General Assembly Takes Note

    The UN General Assembly acknowledges the growing movement to establish shark sanctuaries in this year’s Sustainable Fisheries Resolution. Leaders representing eight countries <a href="http://www.pewenvironment.org/news-room/press-releases/leaders-launch-new-shark-conservation-effort-85899364288" target="_hplink">came together at the United Nations</a> earlier in the year to launch a new shark conservation effort, committing to support the development of sanctuaries that end commercial shark fishing in their national waters. (Photo: Jim Abernethy)