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Spearfishing is a method of
fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are , , -bearing animals that lack with . Included in this definition are the living , s, and and as well as various extinct related groups. Around 99% of living fish species are ...

fishing
that involves impaling the fish with a straight pointed object such as a
spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

spear
, gig or
harpoon A harpoon is a long spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat Close combat means a violent physical confrontation between two or more opponents at short range.''MCRP 3-02B: Close Combat'', Washington, ...
. It has been deployed in
artisanal fishing Wood carver in Bali An artisan (from french: artisan, it, artigiano) is a skilled craft worker who makes or creates material objects partly or entirely by hand A hand is a prehensile, multi- fingered appendage located at the end of the ...
throughout the world for millennia. Early civilisations were familiar with the custom of spearing fish from rivers and streams using sharpened sticks. Modern spearfishing usually involves the use of
underwater swimming gear
underwater swimming gear
and
slingshot A slingshot (United States and Canada), catapult (United Kingdom), gulel (India), kettie (South Africa), or ging, shanghai, pachoonga (Australian and New Zealand) is normally a small hand-powered projectile weapon A weapon, arm or armament ...

slingshot
-like elastic powered
speargun upright=1.2, Speargun in use by a diver A speargun is a ranged underwater fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with ...

speargun
s or
compressed gas The international pictogram for compressed gases. A compressed fluid (also called a compressed or unsaturated liquid, subcooled fluid or liquid) is a fluid In physics, a fluid is a substance that continually Deformation (mechanics), deforms ...
powered pneumatic spearguns, which launch a tethered underwater
projectile A projectile is a missile propelled by the exertion of a force In physics, a force is an influence that can change the motion (physics), motion of an Physical object, object. A force can cause an object with mass to change its velocity (e ...

projectile
to strike the target fish. Specialised techniques and equipment have been developed for various types of aquatic environments and target fish. Spearfishing may be done using
free-diving Freediving, free-diving, free diving, breath-hold diving, or skin diving is a form of underwater diving Underwater diving, as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment. Immers ...
,
snorkelling Snorkeling (American and British English spelling differences#Doubled in British English, British and Commonwealth English spelling: snorkelling) is the practice of human swimming, swimming on or through a body of water while equipped with a divi ...

snorkelling
or
scuba diving Scuba diving is a type of underwater diving Underwater diving, as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment. Immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure have ...

scuba diving
techniques, but spearfishing while using scuba equipment is illegal in some countries. The use of mechanically powered spearguns is also outlawed in some countries and jurisdictions. Spearfishing is highly selective, normally uses no bait and has no
by-catch Bycatch (or by-catch), in the fishing industry The fishing industry includes any industry or activity concerned with taking, culturing, processing, preserving, storing, transporting, marketing or selling fish or fish products. It is defined by th ...
.


History

Spearfishing with barbed poles (
harpoon A harpoon is a long spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat Close combat means a violent physical confrontation between two or more opponents at short range.''MCRP 3-02B: Close Combat'', Washington, ...
s) was widespread in palaeolithic times.
Cosquer Cave The Cosquer Cave is located in the Calanque de Morgiou in Marseille Marseille ( , also spelled in English as ''Marseilles''; , ; oc, Marselha ) is the Prefectures in France, prefecture of the Departments of France, department of Bouches-du-R ...
in Southern France contains cave art over 16,000 years old, including drawings of seals which appear to have been harpooned. There are references to fishing with spears in ancient literature; though, in most cases, the descriptions do not go into detail. An early example from the
Bible The Bible (from Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Gree ...

Bible
is in Job 41:7: ''Canst thou fill his eviathanskin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?''. The Greek historian
Polybius Polybius (; grc-gre, Πολύβιος, ; ) was a Greek historian of the Hellenistic period The Hellenistic period covers the period of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the ...

Polybius
(''ca'' 203 BC–120 BC), in his
Histories Histories or, in Latin, Historiae may refer to: * the plural of history * Histories (Herodotus), ''Histories'' (Herodotus), by Herodotus * ''The Histories'', by Timaeus (historian), Timaeus * The Histories (Polybius), ''The Histories'' (Polybius), ...
, describes hunting for swordfish by using a
harpoon A harpoon is a long spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat Close combat means a violent physical confrontation between two or more opponents at short range.''MCRP 3-02B: Close Combat'', Washington, ...
with a barbed and detachable head. Greek author Oppian of Corycus wrote a major treatise on sea fishing, the ''Halieulica'' or ''Halieutika'', composed between 177 and 180. This is the earliest such work to have survived intact. Oppian describes various means of fishing including the use of spears and tridents. In a parody of fishing, a type of
gladiator A gladiator ( la, gladiator, "swordsman", from , "sword") was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the classical Roman civilization, run thr ...

gladiator
called
retiarius A ''retiarius'' (plural ''retiarii''; literally, "net-man" in Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as La ...
carried a
trident A trident is a three-tine (structural), pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and historically as a polearm. The trident is the weapon of Poseidon, or Neptune (mythology), Neptune, the God of the Sea in classical mythology. The trident ma ...

trident
and a casting-net. He fought the
murmillo The murmillo (also sometimes spelled "mirmillo" or "myrmillo", pl. murmillones) was a type of gladiator A gladiator ( la, gladiator, "swordsman", from , "sword") was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman ...
, who carried a short sword and a
helmet A helmet is a form of protective gear Personal protective equipment (PPE) is protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury or infection. The hazards addressed by p ...

helmet
with the image of a fish on the front.
Copper Copper is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

Copper
harpoons were known to the seafaring
Harappa Harappa (; Urdu Urdu (; ur, , ALA-LC ALA-LC (American Library Association The American Library Association (ALA) is a nonprofit organization A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit o ...

Harappa
ns well into antiquity. Early hunters in India include the Mincopie people, aboriginal inhabitants of
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
's
Andaman and Nicobar Andaman and Nicobar Islands is a union territory of India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (Hindi: ), is a country in South Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, second-most populous country, ...
islands, who have used harpoons with long cords for fishing since early times. Image:Poseidon sculpture Copenhagen 2005.jpg, Poseidon/Neptune sculpture in Copenhagen Port Image:Astyanax vs Kalendio mosaic.jpg, Mosaic, 4th century BC, showing a
retiarius A ''retiarius'' (plural ''retiarii''; literally, "net-man" in Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as La ...
or "net fighter", with a trident and cast net, fighting a
secutor A secutor (''pl.'' secutores) was a class of gladiator A gladiator ( la, gladiator, "swordsman", from , "sword") was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other ...
. Image:Trident fishing gallaeus.jpg, Dutch fishermen using tridents in the 17th century


Traditional

Spear fishing is an ancient method of fishing and may be conducted with an ordinary
spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat weapon in which the main fighting part of the weapon is fitted to the end of a long shaft, typically of wood, thereby extending the user's effective range and striking pow ...

spear
or a specialised variant such as an eel spear or the
trident A trident is a three-tine (structural), pronged spear. It is used for spear fishing and historically as a polearm. The trident is the weapon of Poseidon, or Neptune (mythology), Neptune, the God of the Sea in classical mythology. The trident ma ...

trident
. A small trident-type spear with a long handle is used in the American South and Midwest for
gigging , Peru , , image_flag = Flag_of_Peru.svg , image_coat = Escudo_nacional_del_Perú.svg , other_symbol = Great Seal of the State , other_symbol_type = Seal (device), National sea ...
bullfrog Bullfrog is a common English language term to refer to large, aggressive frogs, regardless of species. Examples of bullfrogs include: Frog species America *Helmeted water toad (''Calyptocephalella gayi''), endemic to Chile *American bullfrog ('' ...

bullfrog
s with a bright light at night, or for gigging
carp Carp are various species of oily fish, oily freshwater fish from the family Cyprinidae, a very large group of fish native to Europe and Asia. While carp is consumed in many parts of the world, they are generally considered an invasive species in ...

carp
and other fish in the shallows.


Modern

Traditional spear fishing is restricted to shallow waters, but the development of the
speargun upright=1.2, Speargun in use by a diver A speargun is a ranged underwater fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with ...

speargun
, diving mask and swimfins allows fishing in deeper waters. With practice, some freedivers are able to hold their breath for up to four minutes; a diver with underwater breathing equipment can dive for much longer periods. In the 1920s, sport spearfishing using only watertight swimming goggles became popular on the
Mediterranean The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by the Mediterranean Basin and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Western Europe, Western and Southern Europe and Anatolia, on the south by North Africa ...

Mediterranean
coast of
France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses ...

France
and
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
. This led to development of the modern
diving mask A diving mask (also half mask, dive mask or scuba mask) is an item of diving equipment Diving most often refers to: * Diving (sport), the sport of jumping into deep water * Underwater diving, human activity underwater for recreational or occupat ...

diving mask
,
fins A fin is a thin component or appendage attached to a larger body or structure. Fins typically function as foils that produce lift Lift or LIFT may refer to: Physical devices * Elevator, or lift, a device used for raising and lowering people o ...
and snorkel. Modern
scuba diving Scuba diving is a type of underwater diving Underwater diving, as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment. Immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure have ...

scuba diving
had its genesis in the systematic use of
rebreather A rebreather is a breathing apparatus that absorbs the carbon dioxide Carbon dioxide (chemical formula A chemical formula is a way of presenting information about the chemical proportions of atom An atom is the smallest unit of o ...

rebreather
s by
Italian Italian may refer to: * Anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Italy ** Italians, an ethnic group or simply a citizen of the Italian Republic ** Italian language, a Romance language *** Regional Italian, regional variants of the ...

Italian
sport spearfishers during the 1930s. This practice came to the attention of the
Italian Navy "Fatherland and Honour" , patron = , colors = , colors_label = , march = ( is the return of soldiers to their barrack, or sailors to their ship after ...
, which developed its frogman unit, which affected
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
. By 1940 small groups of people in California, USA had been spearfishing for less than 10 years. Most used imported gear from Europe, while innovators Charlie Sturgill, Jack Prodanovich, and Wally Potts invented and built innovative equipment for California's divers. During the 1960s, attempts to have spearfishing recognised as an Olympic sport were unsuccessful. Instead, two organisations, the International Underwater Spearfishing Association (IUSA) and the International Bluewater Spearfishing Records Committee (IBSRC), list world record catches by species according to rules to ensure fair competition. Spearfishing is illegal in many bodies of water, and some locations only allow spearfishing during certain seasons.


Conservation

Spearfishing has been implicated in local disappearances of some species, including the
Atlantic goliath grouper The Atlantic goliath grouper or itajara ('' Epinephelus itajara''), also known as the jewfish, is a large saltwater fish of the grouper Groupers are fish of any of a number of genus, genera in the subfamily Epinephelinae of the family (biology) ...
on the
Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole, which is primarily spoken in the Lesser Antilles ...
island of
Bonaire Bonaire ( or ; ; pap, Boneiru, ) is an island in the Leeward Antilles The Leeward Antilles ( nl, Benedenwindse Eilanden) are a chain of island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dram ...

Bonaire
, the in the barrier reef off the coast of
Belize Belize () is a Caribbean The Caribbean (, ; es, Caribe; french: Caraïbes; ht, Karayib; also gcf, label=Antillean Creole Antillean Creole (Antillean French Creole, Kreyol, Kwéyòl, Patois) is a French-based creole, which is primari ...

Belize
and the giant
black sea bass The black sea bass (''Centropristis striata'') is a species of marine ray-finned fish Actinopterygii ( New Latin ('having rays') + Greek ( 'wing, fins')), members of which are known as ray-finned fishes, is a clade A clade (; from grc, ...

black sea bass
in
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
, which have all been listed as endangered . Modern spearfishing has shifted focus onto catching only what one needs and targeting sustainable fisheries. As gear evolved in the 1960s and 1970s spearfishermen typically viewed the ocean as an unlimited resource and often sold their catch. This practice is now heavily frowned upon in prominent spearfishing nations for promoting unsustainable methods and encouraging taking more fish than is needed. In countries such as
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
and
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
where the activity is regulated by state fisheries, spearfishing has been found to be the most environmentally friendly form of fishing due to being highly selective, having no by-catch, causing no habitat damage, nor creating pollution or harm to protected endangered species. In 2007, the Australian Bluewater Freediving Classic became the first spearfishing tournament to be accredited and was awarded 4 out of 5 stars based on environmental, social, safety and economic indicators.


Shore diving

Shore diving is perhaps the most common form of spearfishing and simply involves entering and exiting the sea from beaches or
headlands A headland, also known as a head, is a coastal landform, a point of land usually high and often with a sheer drop, that extends into a body of water. It is a type of promontory. A headland of considerable size often is called a Cape (geography), ca ...
and hunting around ocean structures, usually
reef A reef is a ridge or shoal In oceanography Oceanography (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following per ...

reef
, but also rocks,
kelp Kelps are large brown algae The brown algae (singular: alga), comprising the class (biology), class Phaeophyceae, are a large group of multicellular algae, including many seaweeds located in colder waters within the Northern Hemisphere. Most b ...

kelp
or sand. Usually shore divers hunt at depths of , depending on location. In some locations, divers can experience drop-offs from close to the shore line.
Shark Sharks are a group of elasmobranch fish characterized by a Chondrichthyes#Skeleton, cartilaginous skeleton, five to seven gill slits on the sides of the head, and pectoral fins that are not fused to the head. Modern sharks are classified withi ...

Shark
s and reef fish can be abundant in these locations. In subtropical areas, sharks may be less common, but other challenges face the shore diver, such as managing entry and exit in the presence of big waves. Headlands are favoured for entry because of their proximity to deeper water, but timing is important so the diver does not get pushed onto rocks by waves. Beach entry can be safer, but more difficult due to the need to repeatedly dive through the waves until the surf line is crossed. Divers may enter from a relatively exposed headland, for convenience, then swim to a more protected part of the shore for their exit from the water. Shore dives produce mainly reef fish, but oceangoing
pelagic fish Pelagic fish live in the pelagic zone The pelagic zone consists of the water column A water column is a Concept, conceptual column of water from the surface of a sea, river or lake to the bottom sediment.Munson, B.H., Axler, R., Hagley ...
are also caught from shore dives in some places, and can be specifically targeted. Shore diving can be done with trigger-less spears such as pole spears or
Hawaiian sling The Hawaiian sling is a device used in spearfishing. The sling operates much like a bow and arrow The bow and arrow is a ranged weapon system consisting of an elastic launching device (bow) and long-shafted projectiles ( arrows). ''Archery ...
s, but more commonly triggered devices such as spearguns. Speargun setups to catch and store fish include speed rigs and fish stringers.


Boat diving

Boats, ships, kayaks, or even jetski can be used to access offshore reefs or ocean structure. Man-made structures such as oil rigs and Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) are also fished. Sometimes a boat is necessary to access a location that is close to shore, but inaccessible by land. Methods and gear used for boat diving are similar to shore diving or blue water hunting, depending on the target prey. Boat diving is practiced worldwide. Hot spots include
Mozambique Mozambique (), officially the Republic of Mozambique ( pt, Moçambique or , ; ny, Mozambiki; sw, Msumbiji; ts, Muzambhiki), is a country located in Southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-lar ...

Mozambique
, the Three Kings islands of
New Zealand New Zealand ( mi, Aotearoa ''Aotearoa'' (; commonly pronounced by English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Engl ...

New Zealand
(
yellowtailYellowtail, yellow-tail, or Yellow Tail may refer to: * Yellowtail (fish), any of several species of fish * Yellow-tail, a Eurasian moth species * Yellowtail moth, a South American moth species * Yellow Tail (wine), an Australian wine producer * Yel ...
), Gulf of Mexico oil rigs (
cobia The cobia (''Rachycentron canadum'') is a species of carangiform marine Marine is an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the sea or ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approxi ...

cobia
,
grouper Groupers are fish of any of a number of genus, genera in the subfamily Epinephelinae of the family (biology), family Serranidae, in the order Perciformes. Not all serranids are called "groupers"; the family also includes the Bass (fish), sea bas ...

grouper
) and the
Great Barrier Reef The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest coral reef A coral reef is an underwater ecosystems, ecosystem characterized by reef-building corals. Reefs are formed of Colony (biology), colonies of coral polyp (zoology), polyps held tog ...

Great Barrier Reef
(
wahoo Wahoo (''Acanthocybium solandri'') is a Scombridae, scombrid fish found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas. It is best known to sports fishermen, as its speed and high-quality flesh makes it a prized and valued game fish. In Hawaii (isla ...
, dogtooth tuna). The deepwater fishing grounds off Cape Point, (Cape Town, South Africa) have become popular with
trophy hunting Trophy hunting is hunting Hunting is the practice of seeking, pursuing and capturing or killing wildlife or feral animals. The most common reasons for humans to hunt are to harvest useful animal products (meat, fur/hide (skin), hide, bone/tu ...
, freediving spearfishers in search of Yellowfin Tuna.


Blue water hunting

Blue water hunting involves diving in open ocean waters for pelagic species. It involves accessing usually very deep and clear water and
chumming Chumming (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currentl ...
for large pelagic fish species such as
marlin Marlins are fish from the family Istiophoridae, which includes about 10 species. A marlin has an elongated body, a spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat Close combat means a violent physical confron ...
,
tuna A tuna is a saltwater fish that belongs to the Tribe (biology), tribe Thunnini, a subgrouping of the Scombridae (mackerel) family. The Thunnini comprise 15 species across five genera, the sizes of which vary greatly, ranging from the bullet ...

tuna
,
wahoo Wahoo (''Acanthocybium solandri'') is a Scombridae, scombrid fish found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas. It is best known to sports fishermen, as its speed and high-quality flesh makes it a prized and valued game fish. In Hawaii (isla ...
, or giant trevally. Blue water hunting is often conducted in drifts; the boat driver drops divers and allow them to drift in the current for up to several kilometres before collecting them. Blue water hunters can go for hours without seeing any fish, and without any ocean structure or a visible bottom the divers can experience
sensory deprivation Sensory deprivation or perceptual isolation is the deliberate reduction or removal of stimuli A stimulus is something that causes a physiological response. It may refer to: *Stimulation Stimulation is the encouragement of development or the caus ...

sensory deprivation
and have difficulty determining the size of a solitary fish. One technique to overcome this is to note the size of the fish's eye in relation to its body. Large specimens have a proportionally smaller eye. The creation of the Australian Bluewater Freediving Classic in 1995 in northern
New South Wales New South Wales (abbreviated as NSW) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...
was a way of creating interest and promotion of this format of underwater hunting, and contributed to the formation of the International Bluewater Spearfishing Records Committee. The IBSRC formed in 1996, was the first dedicated organization worldwide, created by recognized world leaders in blue-water hunting, to record the capture of pelagic species by blue-water hunters. The Blue Water World Cup in La Ventana, BCS, Mexico has also brought a large amount of notoriety to the sport. Started in 2006 by Dennis Haussler. Elite spear fishermen from all over the world compete in a 4 day format that involves very selective spearing of pelagic species, with Wahoo, AmberJack, Dorado, Roosterfish, Marlin and Tuna being the target species. The diving is dynamic and challenging with depths that vary from 15ft to over 100ft. Notably, some blue water hunters use large multi-band wooden guns and make use of breakaway rigs to catch and subdue their prey. If the prey is large and still has fight left after being subdued, a second gun can provide a kill shot at a safe distance. This is acceptable to IBSRC and IUSA regulations as long as the spearo loads it himself in the water. Blue water hunting is conducted worldwide, but notable hot spots include
Baja Mexico The Baja California Peninsula ( en, Lower California Peninsula, es, Península de Baja California) is a peninsula in Northwestern Mexico. It separates the Pacific Ocean from the Gulf of California. The peninsula extends from Mexicali, Baja Cal ...
(
yellowfin tuna The yellowfin tuna (''Thunnus albacares'') is a species of tuna found in pelagic waters of tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. Yellowfin is often marketed as ahi, from the Hawaiian language, Hawaiian , a name also used there for the closely ...

yellowfin tuna
,
wahoo Wahoo (''Acanthocybium solandri'') is a Scombridae, scombrid fish found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas. It is best known to sports fishermen, as its speed and high-quality flesh makes it a prized and valued game fish. In Hawaii (isla ...
),
Southern California Southern California (sometimes known as SoCal; es, Sur de California) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the southern portion of the U.S. state of California California is a in the . With over 39.3million resi ...

Southern California
(
bluefin tuna Bluefin tuna is a common name used to refer to several species of tuna A tuna is a saltwater fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with Digit (anatomy), digits. They form ...

bluefin tuna
),
Tanzania Tanzania (; ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern subregion of the Africa Africa is the world's second-larges ...

Tanzania
( dogtooth tuna,
wahoo Wahoo (''Acanthocybium solandri'') is a Scombridae, scombrid fish found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas. It is best known to sports fishermen, as its speed and high-quality flesh makes it a prized and valued game fish. In Hawaii (isla ...
and
yellowfin tuna The yellowfin tuna (''Thunnus albacares'') is a species of tuna found in pelagic waters of tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. Yellowfin is often marketed as ahi, from the Hawaiian language, Hawaiian , a name also used there for the closely ...

yellowfin tuna
),
Mozambique Mozambique (), officially the Republic of Mozambique ( pt, Moçambique or , ; ny, Mozambiki; sw, Msumbiji; ts, Muzambhiki), is a country located in Southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean The Indian Ocean is the third-lar ...

Mozambique
( dogtooth tuna,
wahoo Wahoo (''Acanthocybium solandri'') is a Scombridae, scombrid fish found worldwide in tropical and subtropical seas. It is best known to sports fishermen, as its speed and high-quality flesh makes it a prized and valued game fish. In Hawaii (isla ...
and giant turrum),
South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over 60 million people, it is the world's 23rd-most populous nation and covers an area of . South Africa has three capital citie ...

South Africa
(
Yellowfin tuna The yellowfin tuna (''Thunnus albacares'') is a species of tuna found in pelagic waters of tropical and subtropical oceans worldwide. Yellowfin is often marketed as ahi, from the Hawaiian language, Hawaiian , a name also used there for the closely ...

Yellowfin tuna
,
Spanish Mackerel Scomberomorini is a tribe of ray-finned saltwater bony fishes that is commonly known as the Spanish mackerels, seerfishes or seer fish. This fish closely resembles the King Mackerel. This tribe is a subset of the mackerel family (Scombridae) ...
, wahoo,
marlin Marlins are fish from the family Istiophoridae, which includes about 10 species. A marlin has an elongated body, a spear A spear is a pole weapon A pole weapon or pole arm is a close combat Close combat means a violent physical confron ...
and giant turrum),
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
(dogtooth tuna, wahoo and Spanish Mackerel) and the
South Pacific The South Pacific is the Southern Hemisphere portion of the Pacific Ocean, Earth's largest oceanic division, and which includes several islands and archipelagos. It may also refer to: Arts and entertainment * South Pacific (novel), ''South Paci ...

South Pacific
(dogtooth tuna).


Freshwater hunting

Many US states allow spearfishing in lakes and rivers, but nearly all of them restrict divers to shooting only rough fish such as
carp Carp are various species of oily fish, oily freshwater fish from the family Cyprinidae, a very large group of fish native to Europe and Asia. While carp is consumed in many parts of the world, they are generally considered an invasive species in ...

carp
,
gar Gars are members of the family Lepisosteidae, which are the only surviving members of the Ginglymodi, an ancient holostei Holostei is a group of ray-finned Actinopterygii (New Latin ('having rays') + Greek ( 'wing, fins')), members of ...
, bullheads, suckers, etc. A few US states do allow the taking of certain gamefish such as sunfish, crappies,
striped bass The striped bass (''Morone saxatilis''), also called the Atlantic striped bass, striper, linesider, rock, or rockfish, is an anadromous Many types of fish migrate on a regular basis, on time scales ranging from daily to annually or longer, an ...

striped bass
,
catfish Catfish (or catfishes; order Order or ORDER or Orders may refer to: * Orderliness Orderliness is associated with other qualities such as cleanliness Cleanliness is both the abstract state of being clean and free from germs, dirt, trash, o ...

catfish
and walleyes. Freshwater hunters typically have to deal with widely varying seasonal changes in water clarity due to flooding, algae blooms and lake turnover. Some especially hardy midwestern and north central scuba divers go spearfishing under the ice in the winter when water clarity is at its best. In the summer the majority of freshwater spearfishermen use snorkelling gear rather than scuba since many of the fish they pursue are in relatively shallow water. Carp shot by freshwater spear fishermen typically end up being used as fertilizer, bait for trappers, or are occasionally donated to zoos.


Without diving

Spearfishing with a hand-held spear from land, shallow water or boat has been practised for thousands of years. The fisher must account for optical
refraction In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...

refraction
at the water's surface, which makes fish appear higher in their line of sight than they are. By experience, the fisher learns to aim lower. Calm and shallow waters are favored for spearing fish from above the surface, as water clarity is of utmost importance. Many people who grew up on farms in the midwest U.S. in the 1940s-'60s recall going spearing for carp with pitchforks when their fields flooded in the spring. Spearfishing in this manner has some similarities to
bowfishing Bowfishing is a method of fishing that uses specialized archery equipment to shoot and retrieve fish. Fish are shot with a barbed arrow that is attached with special line to a reel mounted on the bow (weapon), bow or crossbow. Some freshwater sp ...

bowfishing
.


Equipment

This is a list of equipment commonly used in spearfishing. Not all of it is necessary and spearfishing is often practised with minimal gear. ; Speargun: A
speargun upright=1.2, Speargun in use by a diver A speargun is a ranged underwater fishing Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish Fish are Aquatic animal, aquatic, craniate, gill-bearing animals that lack Limb (anatomy), limbs with ...

speargun
is an underwater fishing implement designed to fire a spear at fish. The most popular spearguns are powered by natural latex rubber bands, while pneumatic powered guns are also used, but less powerful. ; Polespear: , or hand spears, consist of a long shaft with point at one end and an elastic loop at the other for propulsion. They also come in a wide variety, from
aluminum Aluminium (aluminum in American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the Uni ...

aluminum
or
titanium Titanium is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical ele ...

titanium
metal, to
fiberglass Fiberglass (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. Currently, American Englis ...
or
carbon fiber Carbon fiber reinforced polymer (American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to ...

carbon fiber
. Often they are screwed together from smaller pieces or able to be folded down for ease of transport. In 1951 Charlie Sturgill beat the competition (who were all using spearguns) with his own pole spear design. ; Hawaiian slings:
Hawaiian sling The Hawaiian sling is a device used in spearfishing. The sling operates much like a bow and arrow The bow and arrow is a ranged weapon system consisting of an elastic launching device (bow) and long-shafted projectiles ( arrows). ''Archery ...
s consist of an elastic band attached to a tube, through which a spear is launched. ; Wet suit:
Wetsuit A wetsuit is a garment worn to provide thermal protection while wet. It is usually made of foamed neoprene Image:Diving suit neoprene.jpg, 250px, A neck seal, wrist seal, manual vent, inflator, zip and fabric of a neoprene dry suit. The soft sea ...

Wetsuit
s designed specifically for spearfishing are often two-piece (jacket and high waisted pants or 'long-john' style pants with shoulder straps) and are black or are fully or partially camouflage. ; Weight belt or weight vest: These are used to compensate for wetsuit buoyancy and help the diver descend to depth. Rubber belts which can be quickly released in an emergency have proven to be particularly popular for spearfishing worldwide. This is because the rubber stretches when fitted and retracts as the body and wetsuit compress underwater, keeping them in place more effectively than non-stretch webbing belts, which tend to slide around more underwater as they loosen with depth. Most spearfishing equipment manufacturers now offer rubber weight belts. ; Fins: Fins for freedive spearfishing are much longer than those used in scuba to aid in fast ascent. Typically a closed foot design is used by freediving (snorkelling) spearos, usually worn with neoprene socks, while open foot designs (which allow diving boots to be worn) are more popular with scuba divers. ; Knife or cutters: A knife is carried as a safety precaution in case the diver becomes tangled in a spearline or floatline. It can also be used as an ikejime or kill spike. ; Ikejime or kill spike: In lieu of a knife, a sharpened metal spike can be used to kill the fish quickly and humanely upon capture. This action reduces interest from sharks by stopping the fish from thrashing.
Ikejime or is one of the more humane methods of killing fish which also maintains the quality of its meat. The technique originated in Japan, but is now in widespread use. It involves the insertion of a spike quickly and directly into the hindbrain, us ...
is a Japanese term and is a method traditionally used by Japanese fishermen. Killing the fish quickly is believed to improve the flavor of the flesh by limiting the buildup of
adrenaline Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a hormone A hormone (from the Greek participle , "setting in motion") is any member of a class of signaling molecules in multicellular organisms, that are transported to distant organs to regulate p ...

adrenaline
in the fish's muscles. ; Buoy or float: A
buoy A buoy (, North America more commonly, but not exclusively ) is a Buoyancy, floating device that can have many purposes. It can be anchored (stationary) or allowed to drift with ocean currents. The etymology of the word is disputed. Types Na ...

buoy
is usually tethered to the spearfisher's speargun or directly to the spear. A buoy helps to subdue large fish. It can also assist in storing fish. But is more importantly used as a safety device to warn boat drivers there is diver in the area - usually by being large, brightly colored and flying a dive flag (the red flag with white diagonal stripe in the USA or the blue & white "alpha" flag elsewhere in the world). A typical spearo dive float will be torpedo-shaped, orange or red in colour with a volume of between 7 and 36 litres and display a dive flag on a short mast. However, other designs, such as inflatable mini-dinghy, planche (box), Tommy Botha (big game) and body-boards are also used. ; Floatline: A floatline connects the buoy to the speargun or to the weight-belt. Often made from braided polyester, they are also frequently made from mono-filament encased in an airtight plastic tube, or made from stretchable bungee cord. ; Gloves: Gloves protect the hands when retrieving fish from coral or rock crevices, when loading the bands on rubber powered spearguns and from the teeth and spines of struggling fish. They are also used for thermal protection in colder water. ; Fish stringer: Used to store speared fish while diving. Usually a length of cable, cord, string or monofilament terminated by a loop (and sometimes a swivel) at one end and a large stainless steel pin/spike at the other. The pin is typically 15–30 cm long, 4-8mm diameter, with a sharp point at one end, and with the cable threaded through a hole, usually in the middle, so the spike functions as a toggle once threaded. The pin can optionally be used as an iki jime spike, to dispatch speared fish. It can alternatively be a large, shaped loop of stainless steel. The stringer may be attached to the dive float, especially in areas of high shark activity, although some divers will use a clip to attach their stringer to their weight belt, or the base of their speargun. ; Snorkel and diving mask: Spearfishing Snorkel (swimming), snorkels and
diving mask A diving mask (also half mask, dive mask or scuba mask) is an item of diving equipment Diving most often refers to: * Diving (sport), the sport of jumping into deep water * Underwater diving, human activity underwater for recreational or occupat ...

diving mask
s are similar to those used for
scuba diving Scuba diving is a type of underwater diving Underwater diving, as a human activity, is the practice of descending below the water's surface to interact with the environment. Immersion in water and exposure to high ambient pressure have ...

scuba diving
, although the masks usually have two lenses and a lower internal volume. ;Diver down flag: The "diver down" flag (also called a "dive flag") is a safety flag used on the water to indicate to other boats that there is a diver below. When in use, it signals to other vessels to keep clear, watch for divers in the water, and operate at a slow speed.


Management

Spearfishing is intensively managed throughout the world.
Australia Australia, officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a Sovereign state, sovereign country comprising the mainland of the Australia (continent), Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous List of islands of Australia, sma ...

Australia
allows only recreational spearfishing and generally only breath-hold free diving. State & territory governments impose numerous restrictions, demarcating Marine Protected Areas, Closed Areas, Protected Species, size/bag limits and equipment. The body principally concerned with spearfishing is the Australian Underwater Federation, Australia's peak recreational diving body. The AUF's vision for spearfishing is "Safe, Sustainable, Selective, Spearfishing". The AUF provides membership, advocacy and organises competitions. Regulations governing spearfishing in
Tanzania Tanzania (; ), officially the United Republic of Tanzania ( sw, Jamhuri ya Muungano wa Tanzania), is a country in East Africa East Africa or Eastern Africa is the eastern subregion of the Africa Africa is the world's second-larges ...

Tanzania
have been the subject of controversy. Commercial spearfishing is illegal while spearfishing for sport is legal but requires that Tanzanian citizens hold a specific sport spearfishing license. Foreigners may spearfish for sport only if they are accompanied by a registered and authorized sport spearfishing charter operator. Norway has a relatively large ratio of coastline to population, and has one of the most liberal spearfishing rules in the northern hemisphere. Spearfishing with scuba gear is widespread among recreational divers. Restrictions in Norway are limited to Fish migration, anadrome species, like Atlantic salmon, trout, sea trout, and lobster. In Mexico a regular fishing permit allows spearfishing, but not electro-mechanical spearguns. Spearfishing with scuba gear is illegal and the use of power heads as well. Penalties are severe and include fines, confiscation of gear and even imprisonment. United States has different spearfishing regulations for each state. In Florida spearfishing is restricted to several hundred yards offshore in many areas and the usage of a Powerhead (firearm), powerhead is prohibited within state waters. Many types of fish are currently under heavy bag restrictions. In
California California is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspaper i ...

California
only recreational spearfishing is allowed. California also imposes numerous restrictions, demarcating Marine protected areas, closed areas, protected species, size/bag limits and equipment. Spearfishing in Puerto Rico has its own set of rules. Here you are allowed to freedive with a speargun in marine waters. Spearfishing with scuba gear or in freshwater is not allowed. In the UK, while spearfishing is not explicitly regulated, it is instead subject to both local (typically local bye-laws) and national-level legislation relating to permitted fish species and minimum size limits. For example, it is not permitted to spearfish in freshwater and the non-tidal reaches of rivers. Under recent EU guidelines, recreational spearfishing is now explicitly permitted in the EU's Atlantic waters.


Notable spearfishers

This is an alphabetic list of spearfishers who are confirmed by a reliable source or an existing Wikipedia article. * Rob Allen - South Africa * Tommy Botha - South Africa * Peter Crawford - England, 13 times UK champion * * - England; author of the James Bond books and ''Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'' * Wally Gibbons * * James Grant - New Zealand * David J. Hochman - World Record Holder, Men's Speargun, Striped Bass, 31.0 kg/68.4 lbs; Men's Polespear, Striped Bass, 23.8 kg/52.4 lbs * - Australian prime minister * Cameron Kirkconnell - 12x world record holder * Mohammed Jassim Al-Kuwari - Qatar * * Terry Maas - USA * Barry Paxman - Australia * Raymond Pulvénis - France; equipment inventor and manufacturer; author of first French book entirely dedicated to spearfishing (''La chasse aux poissons'', 1940)Patrick Mouton (1987
Roger Pulvénis « Père » de la chasse sous-marine
''le journal de la mer''. Retrieved on 12 January 2020.
* Dr Adam Smith - Australia * Charlie Sturgill - USA; US National spearfishing champion 1951; innovator of modern spearfishing equipment * * * Rob Torelli - Australia, 9 times Australian champion * Daryl Wong - USA equipment maker


See also

* *Gaffing *Bowfishing


References


Further reading

* *
''Spearfishing is it ecologically sustainable?''
A paper given at the World Recreational Fishing Conference, Darwin, Australia by Adam Smith and Seji Nakaya * {{Authority control Underwater diving by purpose Freediving Recreational diving Fishing techniques and methods Recreational fishing