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Man who claims self defense charged with killing shark

An Australian diver who says he speared a gray nurse shark in self-defense has become the first person been charged under state law with killing the endangered species.
PTI | By Associated Press, Canberra, Australia
PUBLISHED ON JAN 27, 2005 04:14 PM IST

An Australian diver who says he speared a gray nurse shark in self-defense has become the first person been charged under state law with killing the endangered species, a newspaper reported Thursday.

After an investigation lasting more than seven months, Matt Barber, 30, received a notice in the mail last Friday directing him to attend court, Sydney's The Daily Telegraph newspaper said. Barber will claim not only that he was he acting is self defense, but also that as an Aborigine he should be exempt from prosecution because he was teaching his 11-year-old stepson traditional fishing skills at the time.

A New South Wales state fisheries officer found Barber on a beach north of Sydney with a dead 10-kilogram (22-pound) gray nurse shark on June 9.

"It was excited and snapping and charged me," Barber told the newspaper.

Gray nurse sharks _ also known as and tigers _ are considered dangerous to humans, although the speared animal was identified as an immature one.

Barber is the first person charged with killing a gray nurse under state law since the shark became a protected species in 1984. He faces fines of up to 220,000 Australian dollars (US$170,000; euro130,235) and two years in prison if convicted of killing the shark. It is illegal under state law to catch, buy, sell or possess a gray nurse shark.

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