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Lawmakers ponder the meaning of fish

August 18, 2006

CANBERRA (Reuters) – When is a fish not a fish? When it is a giant killer reptile with four legs and sharp teeth.

Politicians in Australia have been pondering the meaning of “fish” and have passed new laws making it clear crocodiles should be fish too.

The decision is at odds with the arbiter of the Australian English language, the Macquarie Dictionary, which rules that fish are “completely aquatic vertebrates, having gills, commonly fins, and typically an elongated body usually covered with scales.”

The answer to the Australian meaning of “fish” is contained in the new Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Legislation Amendment (Export Control and Quarantine) Bill 2006, which was endorsed by Australia’s parliament Thursday.

Australia’s junior minister for agriculture Susan Ley told parliament the new definition was needed to ensure Australia had the right to enforce export controls on a wider range of fish, including crocodile products, shellfish and prawns.

For the record, Australia’s Macquarie Dictionary defines a crocodile as a reptile.


Source: reuters



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