Fatal attack ignites shark protection debate in Australia

Australian conservationists have labelled as Neanderthal a decision to hunt and kill a shark which fatally attacked Perth man.

Ben Linden, 24, was killed on Saturday while paddling his surfboard near Wedge Island, 160 kilometres north of Perth.

He was about 100 metres offshore when he was attacked by what witnesses believe was a five metre great white shark.

The ABC reports it is the fifth fatal shark attack off the West Australian coast in less than a year.

State Fisheries Minister Norman Moore says the animal should be killed if it's found and he questioned whether great white sharks should remain a protected species.

But Wilderness Society of Western Australia spokesperson Janita Enevoldsen says taking the great white off the protected species list is not the right way to approach the problem.

"We need to really understand them and not resort to the neanderthal reaction of a hunt and kill," she said.

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