The majority of recreational spearfisherman, hereafter called "spearos," are truly responsible divers. Many of today's spearos are practicing guardians of the sea's limited resources. Unlike many other fishing methods, freedive spearfishing is truly selective, ecologically responsible and an honorable method of gathering game.
Responsible spearos are very selective when hunting their prey. For example, many spearos may spend hours in the water, involving separate dives, and sometimes even days in the water before they pull the trigger. Ecologically-responsible spearos plan their dives and dive their plans. There is no "by catch" and the only catch taken is the right catch at the right time.
As an example, Steve, one of the owners of Stan's, was hunting the elusive White Sea bass (WSB) on the backside of Santa Rosa Island, near Santa Barbara, California. During the last hours of sunlight, he and fellow spearos (co-owner Walt Johnson & NAUI Instructor Marc Mullaney) quietly entered the waters off Santa Rosa Island, and without any detectable noise, these freedivers fanned out across the kelp bed. After laying motionless on the surface of the water for approximately twenty minutes the first WSB was spotted and then, moments later, Steve observed 20 to 30 legal size fish swimming silently past - only 6 to 8 feet away!
To understand why this was so exciting, one would have to know that WSB are very sensitive to sound and to motion. Many divers are unintentionally noisy or they move awkwardly through the water and they never see the WSB. The few divers that do see one -if only a brief moment- consider themselves to be lucky.
Steve never did pull the trigger. Approximately 20 minutes after the first encounter, he once again found himself alone with the same group of fish; only this time three of them literally swam up within inches of him as he lay prone on the surface of the water. The sun had already set and the low light levels would make landing the fish a difficult task. Under the circumstances, Steve decided not to shoot. Yes, potentially he missed out on a tasty seafood dinner but the memory will stay with him for a lifetime.
This story illustrates the joy, the care, and the responsible behavior that is advocated, taught and practiced by Stan's Skin & SCUBA Diving when promoting the sport of spearfishing.
Aside from the routine offerings, Stan's sells a bumper sticker designed by Mario Korf, a local bay area freediver. The bumper sticker says: "Freedive Spearfishing: Selective Ecologically Responsible Honorable." One dollar of the purchase price goes back to the freedive community. If you enjoy freedive spearfishing, and if you would like to support the freedive community, please stop by the store.