August 18, 2006

Australian lawmakers ponder the meaning of fish

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 on 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.