Shark battle goes to court

Date: 1/2/2005

In a landmark New South Wales case, a spearfisherman has been charged with killing a grey nurse shark – a threatened species. Matt Barber will claim he was acting in self-defence and that as an Aboriginal he should be exempt from prosecution because he was teaching his 11-year-old stepson, Aaron, how to fish. Mr Barber, 30, was diving and fishing off Seven Mile Beach at Forster last June when he encountered the 10 kg shark as Aaron watched from the beach. Mr Barber had just speared a large squid when he says he was hit from behind by a shark. Mr Barber said he tried to kick the shark away, breaking his flipper, but it turned in a tight circle and charged again. He poked the shark with a speargun, but when it came at him again he shot it. A fisheries officer saw him emerging from the water dragging the endangered shark. As a threatened species, the federal Environment Department protects the grey nurse from all forms of fishing.

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