Big Western Blue Grouper
Sustainable spearfishing is key to looking after our marine environment and ensuring there's still plenty of fish available for hunting. In this blog by Shrek from Noob Spearo, he discusses the ethics around sustainable spearfishing and explores the sustainable approach spearos take towards their craft. Sustainable spearfishing is selective, local and creates awareness within the individual, giving spearos a greater appreciation of hunting and their local environment. Read the blog to hear more about the ethics of sustainable spearfishing from Shrek below.
“I'm from Perth, Western Australia, I just went on my first club trip down to Albany on the WA south coast.
While there, I managed to shoot a big western blue groper, I was super stoked with the catch as at 21.8kg, it's easily my biggest fish to date.
I am feeling a bit funny about the whole experience after the fact. The fish is legal to spear and is really delicious, but I feel a little sad for taking such an old fish. I am not the most experienced spearo and shooting this grouper in less than 10m of water was still a challenge for me. I haven't received any negative comments or anything, maybe a few good natured comments about how slow growing they are. Have you ever had any ethical concerns with spearing certain types of fish?" - Jake
Mate this is an awesome question and tells me that you have good intuitive ethics!
It comes down to that old "just because you can, doesn't mean you should" I reckon. With Blue Groper in particular, I think taking occasionally is actually a good thing though. In NSW they protected them due to their vulnerability to spearfishing as a specific and unique form of pressure on their fishery. They actually completely banned spearing them. It's led to an arguably imbalanced ecosystem where they are over-abundant. Anecdotal reports from experienced spearos indicate that Blue Grouper out compete several demersal species on inshore reefs and several species are now found far less often (Snapper Chrysophrys auratus being one species often cited). This is all purely anecdotal as far as I'm aware however this is an example of laws trying to do what good community ethics and education can do a far better job of (in my opinion).
Eastern Blue Groper Achoerodus viridis are commonly called the seeing eye dogs of the reef over here. They’re friendly to a fault and when you begin to get good at spearfishing, they are not super sporting to hunt. They do taste good though and here in Southern Queensland are populous and taken fairly regularly by relatively inexperienced spearos (I still shoot the occasional one). The Western Blue Groper Achoerodus gouldii seem nearly identical in appearance and behaviour from what I understand. They are not a Groper, by the way, they are a Wrasse and that makes way more sense when you look at their teeth and feeding behaviour.
I think W.A fisheries have pretty good management with this. The 1 fish per day is a great idea and I think they are a good fish to take for newish divers. I don't think they are difficult to spear though and I think they are vulnerable to spearfishing in particular due to their inquisitiveness and lack of fear. In this particular instance, I think it should be a topic of discussion in local spearfishing groups and older, experienced divers with an understanding of them and demonstrated good ethics should educate the younger crew.
When your conscience begins to inform you about something, I recommend listening to it. Maybe just take the odd one every now and again when they seem abundant, otherwise chase something else. You guys have an awesome fishery there and as you know spearos are the most selective fishers on the planet. The conservation mindset should be fed just like your family!
"I don't eat fish because there is no such thing as sustainable fishing in the world right now." - Paul Watson
XXX wrong Paul, so wrong! Spearfishing is selective, local, sustainable AND it creates an awareness inside individuals that defies the ivory tower logic about hunting and hunters.