Ethics , conservation and public relations

For a number of reasons , spearfishing has gotten a bad rap . In the early 70 ’ s , the sport was rocked by the anti-spearfishing proclamations of two famous scuba divers . In 1972 , biologist Dr . Hans Hass , underwater photographer and author , wrote his Manifesto # 1 , calling for a legislative ban on the manufacture and use of spearguns . The editor of the influential Skin Diver Magazine and other noted divers quickly joined his ranks .
Two years later , filmmaker Jacques Cousteau resigned his presidency of the world underwater federation , Confédération Mondiale des Activités Subaquatiques ( CMAS ), stating , “ I cannot chair an organization that is mainly supporting spearfishing contests .” In 1975 , during a daylong visit to the governor and legislature of California , he recommended that the state ban spearfishing . For a while , it seemed that the whole diving community , frustrated by the effects of pollution , overfishing and overpopulation , focused on the one issue they felt they could control : spearfishing .
Adding fuel to the flame were tales of rotting fish , speared and forgotten , and legions of European spearfishermen catching huge numbers of reef fish . But the fact is , bluewater hunters are the least productive hunters of the oceans , garnering an extremely limited catch compared to sportfishermen and commercial fishing fleets . And they are acutely aware of the vulnerability of near-shore ecosystems .
This beautiful sailfish swims in the “ Spearfishing Tonga reserve ” created by Rob Torelli and the Diving for a Cause team .
Photo by Terry Maas