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Is Spear Fshing the real culprit for species diminishing?

Posted by Ricksafer on 29 January 2010 at 02:47 PM

Are we “spearos” being wrongly accussed of depletion of marine species?

The main purpose of S.A.F.E.R. “Spear Hunting Specialty” courses.

We feel compelled to address a misconception that has been put forward to us.  Our S.A.F.E.R. courses are first and foremost dedicated to the complete knowledge of the techniques involved in free diving.  In the wide range of underwater activities of free diving there is comprised the Underwater Spear Hunting. It is not the central or unique objective of our teachings.

Much misinformation is being wrongly spread about this specialty. Our main goal when we treat this subject is to educate the students into becoming conscious, law and regulations abiding practitioners of this ancient sport. We emphasize the respect and obedience for the already established regulations, quotas, limits in sizes, amount of specimens harvested, periods of interdiction, etc. We prefer to use the term “harvest” as this is somehow comparable to the activity done by mankind in the agriculture. We selectively pluck the vegetables we need; we don’t plunder and destroy the whole field while doing so.

Likewise, a spear fisherperson is a highly selective individual that chooses and selects very discriminately his targets taking into account all the factors before mentioned. The impact, if any, of this spear fishing activity has been excessively blown out of proportions. Actually, it is minimal.

If we compare that fact that a single trolling fishing vessel with its gigantic cone net captures in just one run an amount of tons of fish that would represent many hundreds of times what a single spear fishing person would harvest in his entire lifetime of spear fishing!
The spearing activity is already highly regulated in quotas, bag limits, measurement of the species, that we in the S.A.F.E.R‘s courses bring attention to. We insist, emphasize and directly make our student responsible and better instructed in their duties as protectors of their own environment.

Contrary to this, the classical fishing industry is largely responsible for the depletion of multiple species as well as the destruction of entire submarine habitats. Take for instance, the lobster traps industry.

World fishing captures statistics reveal that 93% of the total of thousands of tons of fish is done by commercial fishing fleets and or professional fishermen. Then, 6.7% is done by sports fishermen (rods,lines, etc.) Now, ONLY 0.3 of the global captures of fish is actually from spearfishermen!  Furthermore, in the Unites States this figure is even less!

They align on the bottom in Indian file; one after the other attached between them by a guide line dozens and sometimes more wooden lobster cages. At the moment of retrieval they place the boat at the very beginning of the first of them and by using a powerful hydraulic lifting machine they literally DRAG all of them leaving a scarred track hundreds of feet long, barren, dead and devoid of any marine life. It is an irreversible damage as the bottom has been practically “bulldozed”. But, you don’t hear anything about them.

The weather element is also at play, we spear fisher persons cannot go in the ocean if the weather conditions aren’t near perfect. The fishing, lobster or otherwise, industry is always active. Other limiting factors are the physical limitations that put most of the target species in depths not reachable by mere free diving.

The problem is when those detractors that do use SCUBA tanks, illegally take their tanks and unfairly and without any sense of the real sport, begin killing fish on SCUBA. But, that’s another issue that THEY wouldn’t want to discuss.

To end, IF spearfishing is supposedly harmful then…why does Neptune or Poseidon the Greek Mythological God of the Seas has a TRIDENT for?

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