Despite what naysayers might think, Spearfishing is in fact the most sustainable and ethical forms of fishing when done correctly. It is up to you, the spearfisher, to make sure you are doing your part to stick within the guidelines and adhere to certain spearfishing ethics.
Usually adhering to the spearfishing guidelines or ethics is about knowing when to hold back and not pull the trigger. You must be familiar with fisheries regulations by being aware of the species you are likely to encounter, as well as the size and bag limits for your fish, the areas which you are permitted to spearfish, and any protected species in the area. Failing to do this will not only harm the delicate ecosystem of the ocean, but will also result in massive fines for you and your dive buddies. Never shoot at or attempt to kill any fish unless you are 100% sure of the species. Likewise if you are unsure if the fish is large enough, it likely isn’t, so you should not pull the trigger. Additionally, you should never shoot a fish you do not intend to eat as this is wasteful, cruel, and will lead to a rapid depletion of everything the ocean has to offer. An ethical spearfisher adheres to and advocates these simple rules.
If a fish has not died from the initial shot, the fish should be “spiked” with a dive knife (see FAQs for the best way to do this). Leaving a fish alive is not only cruel and unethical, but dangerous to you and your dive buddies, as a fish in distress is one of the strongest attractions for predators such as sharks which can sense the distress and blood of a fish from a long distance.
Another way to ensure you are spearfishing ethically is to not disrupt or damage any of the underwater life. Do not break off or unnecessarily touch corals and do not unnecessarily disrupt or hassle fish. Further, you should never leave your rubbish behind. It is important to only clean your fish in designated areas or away from the general public. Failing to do this could endanger other recreational users of the ocean.
Spearfishers are often targeted by uneducated conservationists who assume we are nothing but ruthless killers of marine life. Educate others by first educating yourself and then explain that you are partaking in the most sustainable, selective and ethical form of fishing.
Most importantly, remember that spearfishing ethics are in place to ensure you and generations to come are able to enjoy the many great opportunities and adventures that the ocean has to offer. Preserving, protecting and being selective in your hunting will prevent public disfavour and criticism of the sport we love most and ensure there are plenty of fish for your children and grandchildren to enjoy as much as we do!.