Did you know that spearfishing with scuba gear is often not allowed? Why is that? Read on to find out.
Spearfishing has a long history dating back to paleolithic times. Early spearfishing techniques involved a sharpened stick jabbed at fish closer to the water surface.
Spearfishing has gone through many changes over the years. Now there’s specialized gear allowing sportsmen to submerge themselves for better access to their prey.
With these changes have come questions of ethical practices. One such question revolves around using scuba gear. Specifically, some experts question the use of breathing apparatuses during spearfishing expeditions.
These ethical questions have led to some areas, especially outside of the United States, to ban scuba gear during spearfishing expeditions. Why would scuba gear cause an issue though?
Why Would Scuba Gear Be Tempting to Use?
Before you can answer the question of why scuba gear would get banned in some areas, it’s important to understand why anyone would want to use scuba gear to begin with. Using a breathing apparatus may seem like a good idea for beginners.
Safety is an important consideration in spearfishing. When diving for fish, you want to make sure your gear will keep you protected and help you maneuver effectively in the water.
Using scuba gear can seem like a good safety measure, allowing you to breathe underwater for longer periods of time. Beginners may be tempted as they have not learned how to hold their breath like experienced fishermen.
If this is the case, why would some people be questioning the use of scuba gear?
Why Is Scuba Gear Not Allowed in Certain Areas?
Certain aspects of the spearfishing gear are influenced by scuba gear, such as the recommended diving goggles. But, there are some concerns about the impact breathing apparatuses have on the underwater ecosystem.
There are also concerns about the sportsmanship of using scuba gear during spearfishing.
Scuba Gear Could Be Considered Unsportsmanlike
Many purists of modern spearfishing look at scuba gear as an unfair advantage. Everyone knows fishermen like to brag about the size of their catch. There are even organizations that recognize the largest catches.
Some members of the spearfishing community believe that the use of scuba gear diminishes the competitive factor. Scuba gear allows fishers to stay underwater longer and allows them to dive further. Rather than having to wait for a good catch, these people are able to chase down the bigger and better prey.
For this and other reasons, organizations such as the International Underwater Spearfishing Association (IUSA) requires free-diving only to qualify for recognition. Any use of scuba gear will disqualify participants from recognition in the world record competitions.
Scuba Gear Increases Unethical Behavior
Every area that allows spearfishing has specific rules and regulations. One regulation is the number of fish that you can collect during a dive.
With any form of hunting, there are people willing to ignore the law. This is no different with spearfishing.
Without the use of scuba gear, you’re limited by the amount of time you can hold your breath. Scuba gear allows spear-fishers to stay underwater for longer periods of time. This allows the opportunity to catch larger numbers of fish.
By limiting the use of scuba gear, some people believe this will cut down on the number of unethical people that ignore the limits.
Protecting Fish from Extinction
It’s no secret that the biggest and best fish are the preferred prey in spearfishing. The problem is the biggest fish are usually the ones needed to ensure the species survival.
During mating, the females will choose the biggest and strongest mates. This is a survival instinct. The biggest and strongest will have the best genetics for future generations.
It’s not just the biggest and strongest males being killed off, though. When the biggest female fish are depleted, it cuts down on the number of eggs produced for a mating season.
If the biggest male and female fish are depleted, the species becomes endangered and could become extinct over time.
Removes the Fish Refuge
The use of scuba gear allows the diver to cover more ground. This means the diver can follow the fish to their areas of refuge, cutting off their protection.
The problem here is that the areas of refuge are also usually the areas where the eggs are kept. By following the fish to their protective places, divers are removing the fish that protect the eggs from predators.
Many species will leave the males to protect the eggs since they are stronger. Since males are typically bigger, if a diver follows the female and comes across the male protector they may choose the larger fish for their prey.
This depletion of the protector fish is another danger to the reproduction of the species. As male fish get depleted, the eggs are in danger from other predators.
Danger to Coral Reefs
Coral reefs are important ecosystems for the underwater world. These coral reefs rely heavily on the fish that make their homes among this system. Not only do they provide substances to keep the reef thriving, but some species are also useful to keep coral reefs clean.
Some of the species that eat algae and remove bacteria from the reef system are targets for spearfishing. The loss of these species could be detrimental to the survival of the coral reef ecosystem.
It’s not just the loss of fish that proves problematic. With the use of scuba gear, divers are able to move around these reefs, causing detrimental changes to the ecosystem.
When divers follow their prey into the coral reefs, they change the heating patterns. This can cause bleaching that leads to the destruction of the reefs. This can destroy many organisms that rely on reefs for food and protection.
Debris left behind during the hunt can also cause problems. Even the oils from human skin can change the delicate underwater systems. Pollution from human interaction can destroy the reef ecosystem.
Scuba Gear Influences Laws and Regulations
As concern for the underwater ecosystem becomes more mainstream, laws concerning spearfishing are getting stricter. Cities in the United States have been more lenient than some other countries regarding spearfishing, particularly the use of scuba gear. But, this has been changing over recent years.
For instance, the use of scuba gear for spearfishing has been banned in west Hawaiian waters. After hearing years’ worth of data, the State Board of Land and Natural Resources in Honolulu decided the use of scuba gear was detrimental to the wildlife in these waters.
There has also been talk of similar bans on Florida coasts. As data continues to show problems to the ecosystems affected, more regulations may get put in place. If these problems are not corrected, this could lead to further bans on spearfishing.
For those who are concerned about maintaining marine life, respecting the concerns about the use of scuba gear for spearfishing is a good way to do your part.
For those who don’t see it as a problem, the dangers of increased regulations should still give you pause in the use of scuba gear.
You Don’t Need Scuba Gear for Spearfishing
While scuba gear may seem like a safety measure for spearfishing, it’s not necessary. There are precautions you can take to ensure a safe dive without the extra gear.
- Don’t dive alone.
- Know the area you plan to fish in.
- Stay close to the surface for beginners.
- Explore terrain with easy access to the surface.
As you get more experience with spearfishing you can explore deeper. For beginners, it’s better to stay close to the surface and become familiar with the areas you want to fish. Even from the surface, you’ll find plenty of fish, and you’ll give yourself time to practice.
Even as you gain experience, you’ll want to take someone with you on a dive. The buddy system will cut down on the dangers of getting stuck underwater or getting swept out.
If you want to start diving deeper, you still don’t need scuba gear. There are different techniques to help you hold your breath for longer periods of time. By staying closer to the surface, you can practice breathing techniques while staying in a safe range.
Practice your breathing techniques for a while before taking deeper dives. Practice in water and out. This will help you increase your time and learn to tell when you’re in danger.
By understanding your limits and being willing to take it slow, you can perfect your techniques without ever needing the scuba gear. This will make you a better diver and give you a competitive edge in the spearfishing circles.
More Tips on Spearfishing Gear and Techniques
Spearfishing can be fun and beneficial to you even without the scuba gear. If you’re already experienced with scuba gear, you can still learn to do free-diving for a competitive edge. If you’re a beginner, why not start with free-diving?
Would you like to stay up-to-date with the best gear and techniques for free-diving spearfishing? Check out our blog for more tips and resources to have a safe and enjoyable experience spearfishing.