Spearfishing and the Environment - Are they at odds? by Khalid

There is often a notion that spearfishing is against preservation of the environment, and hence is frowned upon by many people. In my view, responsible spearfishing is just like rod and line fishing and even better in some aspects.

Among the objections against spearfishing is that it is wasteful because people kill fish, and that it ruins coral reefs.

Spearfishing is selective in the sense that you only shoot the fish you want to catch. Species and sizes that are undesirable are not targets at all, as it is in rod and line fishing, or other forms, such as nets and traps.

Because of its very nature, one cannot even spear fish beyond a certain size and thickness, and hence the young fish are left alone to grow.

As for the damage to the corals, there is a minimal degree of it that occurs. The spear point is only one centimeter or so in diameter and would not harm much more than its own size. Besides, spearfisherman do not like to shoot in situations that would get their spear or its spearhead would get stuck or lost. Even hitting the coral would make it blunt and not able to penetrate the fish.

It is all about attitude: I once overheard a conversation in a Scuba diving shop where the macho customer wanted to buy a hammer so he can break down the corals around a fish when he spears it! I saw photos of Scuba divers who do not spearfish etching their name on corals!

Here are some guidelines for being a responsible spearfisherman.

Only shoot the fish you would be able to eat.
Do not shoot fish so as to give them as presents to friends and neighbors.
Alternate between species, so as not to put pressure on 'desirable' ones alone.
Be careful with corals when navigating your way around. Avoid colored (i.e. live) corals.
Do not collect souvenirs of live sea shells, live corals, ...etc.
Try to collect junk that could be dangerous, such as plastic bags, left over fishing line.
Enjoy the scenery, the ecosystem, the creatures, the marvels you see.