View Full Version : spearing tuna

05-28-2004, 07:05 PM
This came to me through the freedivelist. Definately worth the effort of reading.

Hello Tribe,

Now is the time to act! For all of the freedivers out there who don't
think it's fair that every technique to take Tuna is allowed EXCEPT
SPEARFISHING, now is your chance to make a difference! I heard from a buddy
inside the NMFS (who helps set regs) that this will be our ONE AND ONLY shot
to make a difference to overturn the spearfishing ban on Tuna for a very long
while, could be many years.

Time to speak up and be heard or NOTHING will happen in our favor. If you
think you'll leave it up to 'the other guys' to make it happen, you may as
well forget your chance at a Tuna (legally). Go to this link
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/Amendment2/IO_FaxNotice.pdf and download the
PDF file. In it is information about Amendment 2 and how we should contact
the NMFS with our dismay about spearfisherman being left out with regard to
fishing for Tuna. Our money for a permit is just as good as everyone else's!
Spearfisherman will take much fewer Tuna than a 'head boat' a 'weekend
charter', nets, and long liners, why can't we fish too! The answer is WE WILL
if we only take the time to send them a note saying we want to be heard too.
This is the first step towards being heard, the next is the public meetings.
From what I'm told, we may not even have to show up for the meetings IF there
is enough 'noise' heard with an outpouring support for Amendment 2 of public.
Though our chances are MUCH better if people show up to the meeting, we HAVE
to send in faxes, e-mail or letters letting them know we are 'Pro amendment 2'
, or it will not even be available for a vote when the time comes.

IF you do not fell compelled to fight for your spearing rights, by all
means feel free to forward this e-mail to ANYONE who you think might take a
brief moment to send the NMFS a note. Why should virtually everyone else get
to take Tuna by any method they desire and we spearfisherman be left out in
the cold?

Thank you for reading this,

Matt 'Catfish' Richards
South Kingstown, RI

05-29-2004, 11:39 AM
I AGREE! i will submit my reply to this situation ASAP. spearring tuna is less likely to thin out the population like net or hooking charters.
I'm with you brother!

Dive Ranger
05-29-2004, 12:31 PM
Excuse my ignorance, but what's the current regulation in question? I'm confused b/c I've seen pics of spear-killed tunas.

Thanks for the info, regardless. No matter what the current reg is, I'd love to shoot a fat-A tuna someday.


05-30-2004, 02:42 PM
The next NOAA public meeting is June 2 in Ocean City MD. I will be there. If you want to join me call 410-213-0116. I have been fired up about this for some time. It would seem that the Atlantic tuna fishery is regulated by the Dept. of commerce and the take of tuna is only allowed by listed gear types for the Atlantic Tuna stocks. If it is not on the list it is illegal. Now the challenge is to get spearfishing as an allowable gear type. As for the guys who have been taking these fish anyway it is a matter of time before an example is made of one of us. One of my biggest fears is that will happen and hurt our chances of getting our sport listed as allowable. It has been tried in the past with out success mostly because the push was for Blue Fin Tuna and there was way too much resistance from the commercial and angling community for a few guys to be taken seriously. We should push for the other Tunas and take up the fight for Blue Fin later. But we must make a large show of force at every meeting (please see the dates from the Links Matt Richards provided) and write not just E-mail. To make matters worse I have heard rumors that Dolphin and Wahoo may also be regulated in the future. We have to represent or we will lose other fish as well. Let's be heard!

06-01-2004, 09:31 AM
Not sure which pictures you are talking about, but are you sure they were speared in the U.S.? It's not illegal in many other countries. Here is more info from the freedive list:

Dear Tribe,
Maybe it is an other chance,or an other mirage.I have been involved with this for over 15 years,ever since I was a spotter pilot from Chatham,Mass every summer in the 80 ies thru the lte 90 ties.I have a file over one inch thick dealing with the NMFS trying to get a permit to spear AGBF Tuna.Simply,their answer was always concerning liability,and no category allowance for speared fish. I have been a member of the East Coast Tuna Association,and tried to push for allowing speared fish to be in the "Trophy Category"--but as Terry said,the anglers,and the commercial guys always voted it down. At this point,I suggest you guys on the east coast go to all the meetings they have,find my fried Rich Ruais of the East coast tuna association,and have him help .He is fully aware of the situation.One additional piece of
information: During the tuna season,there are "off" days ,when the commercial boys are not allowed to go out.Those days would be ideal for us to rent their boat for for Trophy spearFishing. Everybody wins,and the excuse of "that blue water hunting was too dangerouous for the divers especially around their fishing operations"would be void.By the way,believe me,you do not want to mix the two-they are right on that one. Just picture 100 plus boats,about 50 airplanes in a small area around bubble feeding whales-50 miles off shore--plus some tax collectors-no,you do not want to be in the middle of that in the water. Well,let`s give it an other try. Power is in numbers,so please be there to be counted.
Joe Denk
Manhattan Beach,Ca

Original Message -----
Subject: Atlantic bluefin - - another chance

Atlantic tuna fishers,

It looks as if we have another shot at getting spearfishing included as an allowable method of take for tuna. There are nine public meetings June 2 through June 30 at various locations along the East coast. For anyone willing to attend, I will be willing to write a short appeal on behalf of blue water hunters in general and the IBSRC in particular. Last go around things were looking good until sportsfishing anglers convinced the commission that blue water hunting was too dangerous for the divers especially around their fishing operations. You will need to address this issue and be aware that the anglers will sell you out...

Terry Maas

The link below gives meeting dates.
At 03:00 PM 5/28/2004, Matt Richards wrote:

06-01-2004, 09:38 AM
june 30th Cocoa Beach 7pm get the ammo ready....
I see allow longlines and netters and regulate spearfishers, sounds like BS to me......

06-01-2004, 12:06 PM
I'll be at the Cocoa Beach meeting. Let's coordinate our strategy.
Mr Denk's commentary would be of great help.

Dive Ranger
06-01-2004, 02:55 PM
So, does this pertain only to Atlantic Bluefin???

06-01-2004, 02:57 PM
The only tuna that you can legally spear in the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico is the blackfin. All others (including yellowfin and bluefin) are managed as highly migratory species and are not allowed to be taken by spear.

06-02-2004, 10:15 AM
More from the freedive list:

Subject: Re: Who wants to spear TUNA update
Guys and Galls,

Not sure how I overlooked this link, but here it is.
Basically the same as the other link I sent BUT it adds another meeting date in Key West, FL as well as extends the deadline for the 'comment period' to July 23rd 2004.

Tomorrow is the June 2nd meeting in Ocean City, MD at the Ocean City Council Chambers, 301 Baltimore Ave. Ocean City, MD between 7 and 9 PM. Hopefully Some of you will be able to make it to the meeting to contribute or to jot down what their current game plan is as well as take note of the feedback from the attendees.

Thank you for your time,

Matt 'Catfish' Richards
South Kingstown, RI

06-02-2004, 11:00 AM
In regards to what Terry Mass said, maybe we should drag along as many sympathetic reel anglers as possible. My dive partner’s dad is a charter captain. He doesn’t talk much, but maybe if we bring a good poker we can get him to say something at our meeting in Port Aransas, Texas. He drives for us often and knows how to captain for both reel and blue water spearing.

Dive Ranger
06-02-2004, 11:24 AM

Thanks for clearing that up for me.

06-02-2004, 12:22 PM
More from freedive list.....

We could use your help. Although it is done on both coasts (and even in a few spearfishing tournaments) currently it is not legal to spearfish tuna in the U.S.. The National Marine Service Fisheries (NOAA) left spearfishing out as a legal means to harvest tuna when the rules were written apparently from the persuasion of charterboat, recreational fishing, and commercial organizations. Basically all these groups had input into the laws, but no spearfishing people did!

There is currently an Amendment (Amendment 2, Issues and Options Paper) that the NOAA is considering for rule changes to the Highly Migratory Species (HMS). One sentence in this 59 page document says this “Freedivers have requested the use of spearguns in HMS fisheries”.

As you know the difficulty of spearing a tuna is high which makes the number of tunas speared low. Allowing freedivers the legal right to pursue tuna will have limit impact on the number of tuna harvested per year. All we need to do to have the rule changed in our one and maybe only chance for a long time, is to voice some support.

There are two ways to do this. Write a letter and fax to NOAA or attend one of their meetings where the public is invited to attend and voice their opinions on the issues and option paper of Amendment 2. It’s that simple.

Their fax numbers are:

Headquarters Office (301) 713-1917
NMFS Southeast Regional Permit Office (727) 570-5583
NMFS Northeast Regional Permit Office (978) 281-9366

The list of meetings currently going on are at http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/hms/Amendment2/extension_fax_notice.pdf

Thanks for your help,
Don Moore

06-02-2004, 12:29 PM
Am I reading this right, this would only pertain to freediving? If so, is there anyway to get an allowance for scuba as well?

06-02-2004, 02:09 PM
Louisiana’s meeting is tomorrow June 3rd in New Orleans at the Elquier Regional Library on 3014 Holiday Drive from 7-9PM.

Since this is in conflict with the Hell Diver’s Rodeo, most interested parties will not be able to attend. So, it is extremely important that individuals not involved with the Rodeo make every attempt possible to attend the meeting tomorrow night, even if just to request that Spearfishing be listed as an allowable gear type in the Atlantic.

06-03-2004, 10:34 AM
That is a good question if it will be for freediving only. I don’t know if the NOAA will specify breathhold only divers. I have never heard of a fish rule in the U.S. that is different for freedivers and scuba divers, although many countries do distinguish from the two.

I take that back, north California only allows harvesting of abalone by freediving. But in that case scuba has a distinct advantage over freediving so restricting it to freediving only, lowers the amount of abalone harvested. That may not be true with tuna.

It’s been a long thought belief that HMS (Highly Migratory Species) fish shy away from bubbles thus it is almost impossible to spear them under scuba, but I’m not sure how true this is. Some scuba divers seem to have success. There are rumors in my area (South Texas) that some scuba divers are having success on tuna at the SPARS by holding their breath when the school swims toward them, although I have not met these divers myself, or at least that haven’t disclosed it to me personally. It maybe more that the majority of people with spearguns in blue water are freedivers and scuba divers tend to dive structure.

My uneducated guess is that if the NOAA adds spearguns as and allowable method, they will not restrict it to breathhold divers only. It certainly wouldn’t do any harm for you to go to a meeting or send a fax and voicing your opinion that scuba divers should not be left out.

06-03-2004, 10:52 AM
More info from the freedive list....

Hello everybody, and thank you Matt for bringing this issue up. The comment period for ammendment2 on highly migratory species has been extended to July 17th. I just spoke with the office of Highly Migratory Species at NMFS.

Here's what I ask each one of you guys to do. This is our chance at making it possible for us to take Tuna in the Atlantic. Our harvest size will be a fraction of sport fishermen's or charters. You can send in your comment on ammendment2 via mail, fax or email.. Information below.

Please send a comment with your support of ammendment2 stating in your own words the following:
- You are a spearfisherman/woman
- would like to be able to hunt tuna in the Atlantic
- would be willing to buy a license and comply with all regulations of migratory species
- You urge the NMFS to make it legal to take tuna in the Atlantic by means of spearfishing
- you fully support Ammendment2

Email to:


Chris Roger
Chief NMFS Highly Migratory Species
1315 East West Hwy
Silver Spring, MD 20910

This is for all of us folks, and mostly for those on the east coast. Let's show a large support for spearing Tuna in the Atlantic..

Rabih Dabboussi

06-03-2004, 12:54 PM

Thanks for the info, I have sent them an E. Mail.

06-04-2004, 10:10 PM
Previous post from Sheri
Please send a comment with your support of ammendment2 stating in your own words the following:
- You are a spearfisherman/woman
- would like to be able to hunt tuna in the Atlantic
- would be willing to buy a license and comply with all regulations of migratory species
- You urge the NMFS to make it legal to take tuna in the Atlantic by means of spearfishing
- you fully support Ammendment2
Email to:

Fired my email off as well.

Screen Name
06-04-2004, 11:12 PM
Dear Sirs:

Please enter my comments into the public record.

I am 49 years old and have been fishing recreationally using various gear for nearly my entire life. My family joins me in this recreation that we love. My family has contributed significantly in service to our country. I pay a full share of taxes, follow the rules, purchase licenses, protect the environment, contribute to my community, and support our nation as well as the best of all fishermen. I have been harvesting fish by both scuba and freedive spearfishing for 25 years.

Some present regulations permit the harvest of fish with various gear, but prohibit the use of spearguns. This is extremely biased toward certain user groups, without factual basis. There is no moral, ethical, rational, or constitutional reason that spearfishing would be excluded from harvesting the same fish in the same quantity that is permitted by other means.

I have heard a number of biased arguments, but the absolute facts remain that spearfishing is the most selective, sporting, environmentally, and humane method of harvest. Spearfishermen always try to "stone" a fish, so that there is little struggle, and no other method has this possibility.

I am not out to get any group, I just want to be treated fairly and equally like any good American. I urge you to establish harvest controls that are fair to all user groups that respect the resource, including spearfishing. I want to be able to harvest the same Tuna or any other fish that everyone else can.


John Schmidt
26 Cypress Drive
Palm Harbor, FL

06-25-2004, 10:00 AM
Just a little update on our NOAA Options & Issue 2 meeting in Port Aransas last night. There were two men from NOAA there to give the presentation. About 20 some people were in attendance. Their presentation was done with Power Point and they brought up several issues and options. The interesting thing was most issues and options were things that there were no clear cut answers too. Different interest groups could easily take opposing views. Adding spearguns as an allowable harvesting method was about the most clear-cut and argument free issue there!

Six attendees chose to speak at the end. The first was the president of something like the Texas Recreational Saltwater Fishing Association. He set the tone by sharply criticizing the NOAA. He made the statement that “he believed the commercial fishing industry should be regulated into obscurity!” Most people in the audience seemed to agree with him and either there were no commercial people there or they choose to stay quiet after that.

The next two to speak was a Washington bureaucrat and his Marine Biologist PHD wife. They also sharply criticized the NOAA. They believed it was ridiculous to make recreational fishing (which in their opinion was so minor to the commercial harvest) more regulated. They also quoted several laws requiring information collected by government agencies to be transparent and useful. They said almost all of what the NOAA was proposing did not meet these requirements.

My buddy and I were the next to speak. We decided to keep it simple and not bring up things unless they did. We were sure they had already heard most of the arguments from previous meetings anyway.

We started a club last year (South Texas Freediving Association, www.stfreedivera.org) and used that name as the association we were representing. They really seemed to like that we were representing an organization. Little did they know we only have five members! Our arguments were the number of tunas speared by spearfishing would be statistically insignificant; it did not pose a hazard with other boaters, because we were will marked with buoys, flags, and with a boat and driver staying with us, and the remoteness of the locations limited boating traffic; it would make speargun use for tunas consistent with the west coast; we had no bi-catch since we see what we shoot (the audience had a good laugh with that one); and we deserved to participate as well as any other group. We purposely chose not distinguish freediving from scuba. Both the men from the NOAA and the audience seemed to accept and agree with us.

After the meeting a man from Texas Parks & Wildlife, who had taken part in the meeting, came up to us and wanted our names, phone numbers, and any information we had on our club. He said he would like to contact us and get our opinions on different issues for his work. Later he said he scuba spearfished and tried freediving once, so I would not be surprised if some of his interest was personal.

I have talked to a couple other divers who have been involved and I am little disappointed more spearfishing women/men did not get behind this, but I do believe the ones that did will have made a difference. We have had enough representation for them to understand what we want and of all the possible issues and options spearguns is one of the few they can pass without much complaint from anyone.

Looking forward to setting the Texas State Yellow fin non-rod & reel record someday, :D

PS The last meeting is in Cocoa Beach, Florida on Wednesday, June 30th. Hope some of you Floridians make it! :D