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PUBL

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IN A

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AWARD

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ar
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20
08
Recfishing

THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING


IN NEW SOUTH WALES

5 Metres

10 Metres

15 Metres

An essential hand-book 20 Metres


Written by divers for divers

SKINDIVERS
& FISHERMEN’S
U N D E RWAT E R

USFA
S N
S
O IO
C T
A

60 YEARS

25 Metres
Words from an Ambassador Contents

Message From the Hon. Ian Macdonald. . . 3 First published 2008


be my life long dive buddy and
companion. Preface. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Copyright © 2008 Underwater Skindiver’s and Fishermen’s
Association (USFA), Sydney, Australia. All rights reserved.
Your Association. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Published by the Underwater Skindiver’s and Fishermen’s
Every spearfisher can be an am- Association
Background to Spearfishing. . . . . . . . . . . . 6
bassador for the sport simply by Sixty years of service to New South Wales Spearfishing.
PO Box 362, Brookvale NSW 2100.
adhering to the morals and ethics Caring for the Marine Environment. . . . . . . 8
Downloadable for personal viewing only.
prescribed in this handbook. Every Marine Environment Checklist. . . . . . . . . . 10 www.usfa.com.au
time you interact with a member Typeface: Euphemia UCAS
Spearfishing & Conservation. . . . . . . . . . 12
of the public or other marine

U
System: Adobe® InDesign® CS3

user group, is your opportunity Code of Conduct for Spearfishing . . . . . 13


Managing Editor: Darren Higgins
nderwater to do your part in presenting a Code of Conduct for Grey Nurse Sharks. . 14 Graphic Design: Mignonne Fonseca
fishing is a sport that at- responsible mindset and attitude email: mignonnejeanette@yahoo.com.au
Code of Conduct for Threatened
tracts a wide variety of people to through your actions. & Protected Species. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 Media enquires: publicity@usfa.com.au
the aquatic environment because Editorial enquires: theguidetospearfishinginnsw@usfa.com.au
Marine Protected Areas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18
of the many gratifying things the I wish you many exciting years USFA membership enquires: memberships@usfa.com.au

ocean and its creatures have to of safe and pleasurable diving Spearfishers & other Marine user groups. . .20 The Guide to Spearfishing in New South Wales is the result of
a collaborative process that has involved many people within
offer, and the coastal waters of and hope that in some small way Safety Rules. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 USFA, the spearfishing community and industry. To all the people
New South Wales are amongst these words provide you with and organisations that contributed their time, ideas, material
and experience, the sport of spearfishing and the Publisher shall
Basic Equipment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
the best. the inspiration to become an remain grateful.

advocate for your sport and the Spearfishing Basics. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 The USFA acknowledges the support of the Commonwealth Gov-
I was fascinated when I first natural world. Essential knowledge. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .28
ernment of Australia under the Recreational Fishing and Commu-
nity Grants Program with matched financial assistance to enable
stepped into the sea in 1952 the creation and production of this essential publication.
Physiological dangers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
and from that point forward was COPYRIGHT
totally consumed by its mystical Marine Hazards. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32 Material in this publication must not be stored, reproduced, pre-
sented to an audience or distributed in any way without express
surroundings. There was some- Weather & Sea Conditions . . . . . . . . . . . 38 permission of the Publisher. Requests for permission should be
directed to theguidetospearfishinginnsw@usfa.com.au
thing new around every corner
Dealing with Emergencies. . . . . . . . . . . . 44
and it has since DISCLAIMER
The purpose of this publication is to provide a guide to people
provided me Planning Trips. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .46 interested in participating in the sport. Participants should not
rely solely on the information provided herein and understand
with a lifetime Common Species in NSW Waters. . . . . . . .48 that many outdoor activities possess inherent risks that should
of enjoyment, be carefully considered beforehand.
Looking after your Catch . . . . . . . . . . . . 54
being also Ron Taylor Although the Underwater Skindiver’s and Fishermen’s Association
(USFA) has made every effort to ensure accuracy at the time
responsible for Bag Limits & Legal Sizes . . . . . . . . . . . . 56 of publication, USFA, it’s contractors, members, contributors and
Former World Spearfishing Champion
my marriage Underwater Photographer and
agents involved in the preparation of this publication shall not
be liable to any person for any loss or damage of any kind
to Valerie who Marine Expert
Front cover Photos,
Left to right, Images 1,2,3 & 5: Simon Latta. (including indirect or consequential loss) arising from any errors
or omissions or from reliance placed upon any advice, statement,
continues to Member of the Order of Australia
Image 4: Brett Vercoe
Back cover Photos, opinion or conclusion in all or any part of the contents of this
Left to right, Image 1: Paul Miller. Image 2 & 4: Simon Latta
publication or any related Uniform Resource Locators (URLs).
Image 3: Antony Judge
Message from
The Hon. Ian Macdonald, mlc

As guardians of our environment,


education is essential to ensuring
our fish stocks are maintained
for the enjoyment of generations
to come.

It is very pleasing to note that


the NSW Government and the
recreational fishing community,
including spearfishers, continue to
work in close association towards
the fundamental goals of creating
and maintaining sustainable fish-
eries. I look forward to continuing

I
t is a great pleasure to this work in the future.
introduce this new guide
designed specifically for Best wishes for responsible and
NSW spearfishers. safe fishing.

With its diverse topics, spearfish-


ers and newcomers to the sport
can learn about all aspects of
spearfishing, including sustainable
and safe fishing. It will also help
fishers develop an appreciation of
the aquatic environment and how
they can help protect it through
responsible fishing.
The Hon. Ian Macdonald, MLC
I acknowledge the extensive work
Minister for Primary Industries
undertaken by the USFA and Minister for Energy
Photo: Simon Latta
other volunteers to develop this Minister for Mineral Resources
guide. Minister for State Development

2 | THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING IN NSW | | MESSAGE FROM THE MINISTER | 3


Photo: Lee Dalli
SKINDIVERS PARTNER ORGANISATIONS

& FISHERMEN’S
U N D E RWAT E R
on Latta
Photo: Sim

Preface Your Association


A N
S
S
O IO
C T
A

T
he Underwater Skindiver’s & Fishermen’s Association Inc. (USFA) has been serving its
members for 60 years and is the peak body for spearfishing in New South Wales. USFA
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS is devoted to the development, promotion and protection of Spearfishing as an
ecologically sustainable method of fishing.

M
ost people attain their first interest The USFA would like to thank all those that The USFA is affiliated with the Australian Underwater Federation (AUF) which is the
in spearfishing from their experi- participated in the development of this national governing body for underwater sports, including recreational spearfishing. The
ence with and passion for angling. important publication. AUF is an associate member of Recfish Australia and is committed to working strategically
Many of the skills are transferable and together with all recreational fishers. The mission of the AUF is to; bring sport, conservation
both disciplines share similar attributes, Special mention goes to Mr Adrian Wayne, and awareness to the underwater world www.auf-spearfishing.com.au
the obvious difference being one is above immediate past Chairman of the NSW
the water and the other is below. Spearfishing & Freediving Association, now The Role of the USFA USFA Member Benefits
known as the USFA, for the vision, resolve
The objective of the USFA is to ensure that When you join the USFA:
In either instance, the affinity for the and many hours contributed and ongoing amateur divers and underwater enthusiasts can
recreational marine environment afforded dedication to make our sport accessible. continue to enjoy spearfishing activity and ac-  ou are part of a united group and collective
Y
by New South Wales waters is universal. cess to the waters of New South Wales. voice.
Special appreciation and credit also goes to
The USFA Mission is to achieve this through the You are part of a representative organised body

In skindiving, typically what retains the the following and to all those that provided
following actions: that can deal at both the Federal and State
interest of participants to the sport is the support and contribution: levels.
strong bond with the underwater world.
Provide literature that educates participants.
Similarly, the challenge of becoming a •Aileen Catlin •OMER Australia  ccreditation of all NSW Spearfishers.
A
You are entitled to claim official State and Na-

competent freediver provides rewards that •Alastair Cooke •Paul Miller tional spearfishing records and have your name
Issue media statements to convey information to

accredited.
in the minds of participants are often •Brett Vercoe •Peter Saunders the public.
unmatched. •Bryan Van der Walt •Rob Torelli Work proactively with all stakeholder groups and

You are covered by a personal injury policy by

regulatory authorities.
•Craig Shephard •Rob Wills Conduct and assist with relevant surveys or

the NSW Sporting Injuries Insurance Scheme.
As you read this there are several •CRESSI SUB •Rochelle Miller research.

You are covered by a comprehensive public
thousand others in New South Wales that •Darryl Bullock •Ron Taylor (AO) Promote the positive and sustainable nature of

liability insurance policy.
have already commenced the journey. •Dr Adam Smith (AUF) •Sascha Schulz spearfishing.
Provide rules, codes, regulations and policies for

From the Underwater Skindivers and Fish- •Jack Hannan •Shane Spicer You receive a membership card and discounts

spearfishing.
ermen’s Association (USFA), we wish you •Jackie Skin •Simon Latta Work with other similar recreational groups to

on gear.
words of encouragement and trust that •James Sakker •Simon Trippe increase awareness of our activities and attract
You are invited to attend meetings and have

from the moment you decide to involve •Joe Hyzdal •
The USFA Executive new members.
your say.
yourself in the sport that it provides the Strongly oppose any limits to be placed on our

•John Diplock Committee
sport that are deemed unreasonable.
same personal satisfaction our many •John Featherstone •
Spearfishing Downunder Offer diver education programs and provide an

You are automatically doing your part for the

members enjoy today. •John Schulter Magazine cause by simply being a member.
avenue for members to participate in the safest
•Lee Dalli •
The Commonwealth manner possible.
You are automatically affiliated with the AUF.

The guide to Spearfishing in New South •Luke Downie Government Encourage independent and social divers to join

and have a representative stand for any issues or
Wales is a handbook that aims to provide •Matthew Poulton •The Hon. Tony Stewart suggestions.
You get regular communications.
a reference and companion for safe, •Mel Brown •Vlado Hric Offer Internationally accredited snorkel coaching

You have the opportunity to be involved and

legal & enjoyable diving. The spirit of this •Neil Dorrian •Wayne Judge programs and freedive instruction.
contribute back to the spearfishing community.
guide is to make underwater fishing ac- •Naomi Kielly Conduct events and networking opportunities.
Provide tournaments for divers to compete.
cessible, responsible and a means of tak- •NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) 
You get access to dive buddies, events
Recognise excellence in achievements.
ing pleasure in the aquatic environment. Represent member interests on advisory councils

and new skills.

USFA
And, many others not mentioned, the sport established by authorities. Committees such as
is grateful for your assistance in making this LOBMAC, ACORF and ABMAC.
Engage legal resources to contest matters that

guide booklet a reality.
affect the interests of members.

CONTACTS: See the USFA website for contacts and office bearers. Enquires may be directed HOW TO JOIN USFA: 
 Simply contact memberships@usfa.com.au or download a membership
to the Chairman, the Secretary or Public Affairs Officer www.usfa.com.au application at www.usfa.com.au. As at time of printing, annual membership is only $48
WHERE TO GO SPEARFISHING
Background To Spearfishing
The NSW coastline has many exciting
places to go spearfishing:

- Headlands
- Reefs
- Offshore islands
- Fishing aggregating devices (FADs)
n
d by M
el Brow - Ship wrecks
Photo
supplie
to Seal R
ocks Photo supp
lied by Mel SPEARFISHING - Underwater features
Photo supplied by Alastair Cooke
n
xcursio Family Divi Brown
EVENTS
1950 E ng Group
Early Fiftie - Bluewater

S
s
pearfishing in its modern form INFORMATION
Spearfishing like any other sport Please note however that, many en-
commenced early last century in
contains individuals who desire to trances, coastal lagoons and The internet provides aspiring spear-
1917 and those hardy
test their skill against other indi- estuaries and other tidal waters are fishers with an abundance of informa-
participants braved the elements
vidual’s and that is why we have closed to spearfishing, as are some tion. You can find:
using vastly antiquated equipment.
spearfishing events. From the very areas within aquatic reserves and -  Spearfishing supplies.
beginning of competition in NSW marine parks. It is your responsibility - Links to NSW spearfishing forums
The sport rapidly developed over the
the controlling body led the way in to check with your local DPI Fisheries where you can ask questions,
years and in 1948 the Underwater
setting standards that guarantee the office or call DPI on 1300550474. learn and exchange ideas.
Spearfishing Association of NSW now
protection of the environment. For marine park information consult - Pictures and videos.
the USFA was formed by a small
group of dedicated divers at Long www.mpa.nsw.gov.au - Research on key topics.
No other form of fishing promotes
Reef in Sydney.
the concept of taking only one of
each type of fish in an event. 
Competition diving commenced Photo supplied by
around this time and numerous Alastair Cooke
These rules have been developed
clubs were formed right along the
to minimise the impact spearfishing
NSW coastline. In those early days
has on the environment and all fish
spearfishing and scuba divers were
taken are required to be used for
as one and worked together just as
human consumption.
they do now in New Zealand and
New Caledonia.
Continuing this trend, modern
spearfishing tournaments are under-
In the formative years the USFA
pinned by standards that promote
made a decision to ban spearfish-
environmental, social, economic and
ing using self contained breathing
safety criteria. NEATfish otherwise
apparatus (scuba). The sporting spirit
known as the Standard for National
shown back then has shaped skin
Environmental Assessment of Tourna-
diving into one of the most per-
ment Fishing is one example. “Film
sonally challenging and physically
fishing” is yet another initiative.
demanding recreational pursuits that
exists.
BENEFITS OF SKIN DIVING
• Promotes good health. • Outdoor activity.
• Engenders a non-smoking lifestyle. • Part of Australian culture.


 Avenue for exercise doing something enjoyable. • 
Opportunity to obtain fresh seafood

 Not a passive activity like computer games. for one’s immediate needs.
Caring For The Marine Environment As these species are hard to study to the Heritage Branch of the
spearfishers’ reports provide a valu- NSW Department of Planning phone
able source of data to assist with 02 98738500. The Department has
their management. NSW DPI have an produced a set of four free booklets
ongoing threatened, protected and about diving on shipwrecks which can
pest species sighting program and a be ordered via the website

A
s spearfishers we get to explore Introduced marine pests pose a handy booklet with pictures and in- www.heritage.nsw.gov.au
many parts of the magnificent threat to our native biodiversity. formation about these species. Con-
NSW coast from lush beds of Spearfishers can assist the effort to tact the “Threatened Species Unit” at As underwater hunters we have the
seagrass in our estuaries to isolated combat these invaders by reporting NSW DPI on 02 49163877 to get a unique opportunity to be selective in
rocky bays and spectacular offshore sightings of pest species to the NSW copy of the booklet or report our catch and care for our special
reefs as well as traveling out to the DPI - Aquatic Biosecurity. Any sus- sightings on line at marine environment. Responsible
edge of the continental shelf seeking pected sightings can be reported on www.dpi.nsw.gov.au. spearfishers abide by the AUF code
the warm Eastern Australian Current the 24 hour recorded hotline of conduct and:
and the range of pelagic species 02 49163877 or email If you suspect illegal fishing activ-
that ride it. aquatic.pests@dpi.nsw.gov.au ity you can report it to your lo- C
 onserve our fish stocks by taking
cal fisheries office or phone the only what they need.
These wide ranging journeys give Spearfishers occasionally get to 24 hour Fishers’ Watch phone line
spearfishers a unique opportunity observe threatened or protected 1800043536. O
 bey all fishing, boating and
to observe and care for our diverse species such as grey nurse sharks M
 arine Protected Area (MPA)
marine environments. There are and black cod. Marine mammal strandings and regulations.
many practical ways that spearfish- entanglements can be reported to
ers can increase their contribution to the Department of Environment and R
 eport illegal activity to the
caring for the marine environment. Climate Change (DECC) on 131555. appropriate authorities.
Each year many divers participate in
“Clean up Australia day” by remov- Pollution such as oil spills and R
 espect and assist other waterway
ing tonnes of rubbish from our illegal dumping threaten our marine users.
waterways - check with your local environment. Spearfishers can report
spearfishing club to join in the fun. pollution incidents in NSW to DECC Always
 carry and use the appro-
Clean up days are a great social on 131555. priate safety gear.
event and an excellent way to
improve your dive fitness. The NSW coast has many shipwrecks A
 ct as ambassadors for our sport
Photo supplied by James Sakker some of which have yet to be dis- to maintain and enhance our
The threatened species Black Cod
covered. You can help protect and public image.
enjoy these sites by reporting them

Photo: Craig Bond


Forresters Beach

8 | THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING IN NSW | | CARING FOR THE MARINE ENVIRONMENT | 9


Marine Environment Checklist Please remove litter that you find

W
ays in which spearfishers can 
Understand and respect underwater
help protect the marine life.
environment include:

Obey the regulations and observe
Never leave litter or other bag and size limits.
pollution behind, whether it is

yours or somebody elses. 
Become involved in local
environmental activities and issues.
Dispose of fish waste responsibly,
preferably at a fish cleaning station 
Always be a role model for other
or in a garbage bin. divers and the public.

Correctly maintain your boat and - 


Respect the rights of other water
its engine to minimise the escape users and always obey the in-
of any oil or other pollutants. structions of statutory officials.

 spearing or boating in an area


If - 
Report any actions or events that
infected by the pest alga Caulerpa, you feel may be detrimental to
always check your equipment our sport or the environment.
carefully upon leaving the area
and dispose of any fragments in a Respect these principles and
garbage bin. communicate them to others.

Spearfishers can assist in the erad-



ication of caulerpa by reporting
sightings to the NSW DPI Aquatic
Biosecurity Unit on the 24 hour
recorded hotline 02 4916 3877 or
email aquatic.pests@dpi.nsw.gov.au

Dive and anchor carefully in fragile



aquatic ecosystems.

Keep diving skills up to date with



continued education and training.

Photo: Paul Miller


Use your knowledge and expertise

to help others still novice.
Photo: NSW DPI
The noxious introduced marine seaweed
Caulerpa taxifolia
10 | THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING IN NSW | | MARINE ENVIRONMENT CHECKLIST | 11
Spearfishing And Conservation Code of Conduct For Spearfishing

S T
pearfishing is an ally to the he Code of Conduct for spear K
 now and at all times obey
environment. By its very nature fishing in NSW and information NSW fisheries regulations
the sport is physically challeng- about caring for the environment including:
ing and allows target species equal has been developed as a minimum

if not better chances of evading the • Hold a current NSW recreational
standard. The aim is to ensure that fishing fee receipt
underwater hunter than does any all spearfishers are aware of the high
other form of marine harvesting. • Size limits for certain species
standard of behavior expected. • Bag limits
Overall, spearfishing has negligible • Bans on the taking of protected
Preservation of the marine environ- species
impact to the aquatic environment. ment and the sport are mutual • Ban on the sale of fish by
objectives. recreational fishermen
No by-catch Photo: Antony Judge
This code applies to all members of
No pollution • Closure of certain areas to
the USFA. It is intended to discour- spearfishing & other forms of
No contamination age certain types of unacceptable
No nets fishing
It is for this reason that the USFA behavior which may discredit the
No rubbish or debris has developed several Codes of sport of spearfishing. Serious cases, Guard our seas from law
Conduct. The USFA, your fellow such as members willingly engaged
Only one fish at a time can be tar- breakers by reporting suspicious
divers and the public of NSW rely on in illegal activities, may result in pen-
geted. There are also other natural or illegal activity to the proper
individuals to understand and adhere alties including suspension or expul-
constraints including; the physical authorities.
to these Codes. sion. Please become familiar with this
capacity of the individual, the handbook and the Codes of Conduct.
weather and the sea conditions. A
 lways co-operate with regulatory
Another key initiative designed by
Regardless of these limitations it is authority officers performing their
the USFA to uphold responsible and Consider the safety of yourself
essential that divers act responsibly duty.
conservative conduct is Diver and other people at all times.
and fish conservatively. Accreditation. The aim of this scheme
S
 how consideration towards
is to certify participants as having 
Know and at all times practice other water users pursuing their
Photo supplied by Simon Latta demonstrated the required knowledge the Spearfishing and Freediving own recreation.
to safely and responsibly partake in safety rules and principles in this
the sport. booklet. C
 lean your catch at a designated
cleaning area or away from
Like any other sport you are 
Respect our marine life by never general public areas.
encouraged to become a member of taking more game than for your
the governing body, in this case the immediate personal needs. W
 henever you go diving
USFA. As a member you will be
never leave your rubbish behind.
provided access to information as 
Respect our marine life by never
Diver Accreditation is implemented killing unwanted game. N
 ever act in a way which results
and be part of a community of
in public disfavour towards our
friends that share the same interests 
Know and at all times obey sport or our organisation.
as you. boating regulations including:

• Carrying required safety M
 aintain 50 metres distance from
equipment anglers, where it is safe to do so.
 • Navigating safely at all times
The following Codes of Conduct and rules exist to protect the interests of the • Care when anchoring
environment and future generations wishing to experience the wonder of spearfishing.
| CODE OF CONDUCT FOR SPEARFISHING | 13
Photo: Simon Latta
Grey Nurse Sharks

Code of Conduct
for Grey Nurse Sharks

R
eported sightings indicate When sharks move to within five
that the population of Grey (5) metres discreetly retreat
Nurse Sharks may be on avoiding the projected path of the
the increase. shark. If the sharks appear Photo: Darryl Bullock
agitated, move out of the area.
To protect the species for future
generations of divers to enjoy, - Assist in any scientific research in
please adhere to the USFA Code conjunction with NSW DPI
of Conduct for Grey Nurse Sharks. personnel. (This may include the
tagging process to establish
This code represents the minimum movements or initiatives such as
standards of behaviour and actions the Great Australian Shark count)
required when Spearfishing in proxim- www.auf.com.au
ity to Grey Nurse Sharks. The code
is part of the membership commit-
ments to the Underwater Skindivers
and Fishermen’s Association (USFA).
It also serves as the default standard
for all NSW Spearfishers.

When spearfishing near where Grey Maintain and share records of
Nurse Sharks congregate: shark populations to be able to
ascertain whether they may be
 eep a minimum distance of
K increasing or decreasing over
five (5) metres at all times. periods.

 o not knowingly allow sharks to


D - 
When operating in Grey Nurse
steal catches. Shark locations, try to limit direct
interaction.
- 
Refrain from all forms of flashlight
photography of sharks. - 
Educate other spearfishers who
may not be aware of, or otherwise
 regulated by the USFA code.

Grey Nurse Sharks are best recognised by their almost equally-sized


dorsal fins and are not normally dangerous. Grey nurse sharks are a
critically endangered species and protected by law
Photo: Simon Latta
Code Of Conduct For Threatened Photo: Joe Hyzdal

And Protected Species


Blue Devil Fish

R
ules governing protected species This code of conduct applies to all
apply to all recreational fishers. USFA members.
This code of conduct for pro-
tected species aims to further enforce Members will make themselves familiar
these regulations within the spearfish- as to what species are “protected” in
ing community and similarly educate NSW and classified as “threatened”
divers on the importance of preserva- (i.e. vulnerable or endangered) accord- Estuary Cod
tion. ing to the provisions of the NSW DPI
Management Act 1994. See NSW DPI
NSW DPI have an Action Programme www.dpi.nsw.gov.au
which includes a Protected Species
sighting form www.dpi.nsw.gov.au Members will not knowingly disturb Blue Groper
protected or threatened species or
Ongoing evidence is required on the their habitat. Grey Nurse Shark
quantities and areas where Grey Nurse
Sharks abound in order to assess their Members will try to educate those
current threatened species status. who may not otherwise be aware of
the regulations.
Members are encouraged to report any
sightings of protected and threatened Photo: Matthew Poulton Ballina Angelfish
species. Eastern Blue Devil Fish
in the Coffs Harbour region
Queensland Groper
Information includes:

- Specie, sex and number sighted.


- Locality (specific as possible).
- Date and time.
- Sea and Weather Conditions. Elegant Wrasse
Black Cod
- Water depth, visibility & temperature.
- Size and behaviour.

Great White Shark

Illustrations: NSW DPI


16 | THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING IN NSW | | CODE OF CONDUCT | 17
Marine Protected Areas

T
here are four main types in
NSW: Marine Parks, Aquatic
Reserves, Fishing Closures and
Intertidal Protected Areas.

1. Marine Parks are designed to


2
2. Aquatic Reserves are designed to
protect ‘iconic’ sites and marine
habitats or communities perceived
to be under pressure, threatened or
vulnerable to over-exploitation.
POINTS TO NOTE


Before spearfishing in an unfa-
miliar area, check with NSW DPI
and/or the Marine Parks Author-
ity regarding any restrictions that

1
protect marine habitats and biologi- Smaller than Marine Parks, they are might apply.
cal communities. They form a network, typically a few km in extent. Numerous

Any local fishing closures can be
which when complete will provide examples occur in the Sydney Region,
checked at your local DPI office
protection of representative samples plus several elsewhere up and down
or call DPI 1300550474.
of each of the marine habitats and the NSW coastline.
their associated biological communities 
For more information about
found along the NSW coastline. Current Aquatic Reserves include Long Marine Parks or Sanctuaries,
Reef Aquatic Reserve and North contact your local Marine Parks
The network of Marine Parks is based Harbour Aquatic Reserve. Authority NSW or Department of
on broad-scale bio-regions. Similar Environment and Climate Change
systems of bio-region based Marine Most allow spearfishing, but some (DECC) office.
Parks found right around the Austra- have no-take zones that prohibit Photo: Joe Hyzdal

lian coastline. spearfishing. Some others allow 


Some people may not always fully
spearfishing but prohibit the taking of understand local restrictions as-
Each Marine Park is large, typically common invertebrates taken by skin sociated with MPAs – and may,

3
taking in many 10s of km of coastline. divers, such as squid and sea urchins. for example, believe that fishing is
not allowed off an Intertidal Pro-
Currently Marine Parks exist at Byron 3. Fishing Closures exist for a range tected Area. This may lead them
Bay, Solitary Islands, Port Stephens, of reasons, including, sustainable to question a spearfisher about
Jervis Bay and Batemans Bay. fishing, public safety, user conflict and his or her catch. Calm discussion
local habitat protection. Most don’t is the best way to manage such
There are three main types of zoning apply to spearfishing, but some do situations.
in Marine Parks: Sanctuary Zones (no – like Port Hacking. Also, numer- 
If possible refer the person to
take); Habitat Protection Zones (limited ous lakes and estuary entrances are nearby signs and/or the NSW DPI
take); and General Use Zones (few closed to spearfishing, so its best to or MPA.
restrictions). check with the local DPI Fisheries
office. 
When spearfishing in Marine Parks, be

4
careful to observe zone boundaries, 4. Intertidal Protected Areas (IPA’s)
and in particular the Sanctuary Zones. are designed to protect intertidal
Also check local restrictions that may invertebrate communities from over
apply in Habitat Protection Zones harvesting and do not directly affect
(such as limited species lists for fish spearfishing. For more information on
that can be speared). fishing closures or IPA’s check out
www.dpi.nsw.gov.au
Photo: Simon Latta
Generally not a target species,
18 | THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING IN NSW | Octupus are invertabrates & are not to be taken
Photo: Alastair Cooke from Intertidal protected areas (IPA’s)
Spearfishers And Other Marine
! Your wetsuit is your “uniform”, your behaviour is a reflection of how other spear-
fishers will be judged in future. Please be courteous & considerate towards others.
User Groups

0
ur beaches, headlands, reefs - 
Keep well away from SCUBA divers. -  void, where possible, ‘in your
A User perception is very important to
and harbours are extremely They are there to enjoy the fish face’ behaviour when spearfishing the future of spearfishing. By adopting
popular with a wide variety of life, but are limited in how far they or when entering or leaving the the above practices and spreading the
user groups, including anglers, swim- can travel underwater – you can water. word, you can help ensure that the
mers, surfers, SCUBA divers, picnick- always spearfish somewhere further sport has a viable future. The mes-
ers, walkers and local residents. While along the reef. -  ry to be an ambassador for the
T sage for spearfishing is simple:
spearfishers have the same rights of sport – always be courteous to

Never intrude on the fishing activ- anyone who approaches you, even
enjoyment as everyone else, they also “Be responsible or be gone.”
ity of any land or boat-based if their views do not agree with
have a responsibility to be consider-
anglers. If you need to swim past your own. Never ever show ag-
ate of other user groups in choosing Whilst spearfishing, try to maintain
some anglers on the shore, try gression or deliberately intimidate
when, where and how to go diving. 50 metres distance from anglers. If
to establish how they are fishing, others.
you must pass closer, cease spearing
and swim past or around them
Community views on spearfishing tend and move through the area quickly
accordingly. If in doubt, ask them.
to be highly polarised, and while there and quietly so as to not disturb their
They might be fishing in close
will always be plenty of people who fishing.
for luderick or drummer, in which
will admire a successful spearfisher
case you can swim wide around
as he or she wades ashore, there will
them without spooking the fish;
also be others who take a less posi-
conversely if they are casting
tive view – and it tends to be only
wide, they probably wont mind you
the complaints that receive atten-
passing beneath their feet.
tion. Remember, a single complaint
can easily outweigh the good of many - 
Do not enter the water close to
compliments. other boats already around the
FAD and be prepared to take turns
Here are some specific tips on how to to accommodate new arrivals.
behave around other user groups: Check out the DPI FAD’s Code of
Conduct at www.dpi.nsw.gov.au
- A
 lways follow the ‘first in first
served’ principle and respect the - 
Keep well clear of areas crowded
with swimmers or surfers regard-

Photo supplied by Wayne Judge


right of anglers, swimmers, other
users or spearfishers who are in less of what fish might be also
an area before you arrive. there. If you must pass through
such areas, always unload your
- If you think there may be a po- gun and cover your spearhead.

Diver with Snapper


tential conflict, talk to the other
users if possible. Often a quick - 
Never interfere with other’s fishing
courteous conversation can avoid gear, equipment or catches – and
misunderstanding and ill feeling. this includes lobster pots, fish
traps and fish farm cages.

20 | THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING IN NSW | | SPEARFISHERS & OTHER MARINE USER GROUPS | 21
Boat Flag, minimum 900 mm above gunwhale of boat

Safety Rules

minimum 600 mm
T
hese safety rules are in- entering the water and unload
tended to minimise the risk the speargun before seeking to
of injury or mishap to divers leave the water).
engaged in spearfishing. Divers are
encouraged to adopt these rules Ensure that spear tips are
without exception and to promote suitably sheathed or removed
minimum 750 mm
them amongst divers who may while not in use.
not be familiar with them. It is the
responsibility of all participants to Ensure that you are not under Diver float Flag,
minimum 200 mm above water
OR
Diver float Flag,
minimum 200 mm above water
make our sport as safe as possible. the influence of any drugs or
medication that may impair your

minimum 250 mm

minimum 250 mm

While engaged in spearfishing senses, judgment or
you should: physical ability.

Tow a safety coloured float Cease diving if for any reason minimum 300 mm minimum 300 mm

(yellow, orange or red) with an you are not feeling well.


international “code A” flag
(signifying diver below) displayed Take liquids to ensure that you
in a vertical position above the do not suffer the effects of
float, alternatively a red flag. dehydration.

Display a “code A” (diver below)


 Avoid hyperventilating before

flag on your boat. holding your breath.

Attach game to the towed float Always dive with a friend and
so that the game is carried tell someone where you will be
away from your body. diving and your estimated time
of return.
Carry a knife that is attached to
your body which is readily Obtain a current weather report
accessible. for the time that you will be
diving.
Carry a plastic whistle and a
reflective signal mirror. Be on the alert for boat traffic
and ensure that you are visible Cover your spear tip out of the water at all times
Wear a weight belt fitted with a to passing vessels.
single hand operated,
quick-release buckle. Be aware of the General Public
A “diver below” flag is a precaution and a privilege. It is
and do not engage in actions
not an automatic right to defend where you are diving.
Never load or carry a loaded which may endanger them.
Combine safety and diplomacy
speargun out of the water
(always load a speargun after
Photos: Paul Miller
An open cell wetsuit has key
Basic Equipment advantages such as superior warmth
and comfort.

Longer fins are generally more ef-


ficient and allow for deeper diving or
more powerful swimming.

T
he equipment required to begin
diving is not extensive. However Low volume masks reduce drag
it is important to ensure you in the water and require less pre-
are properly equipped to venture in cious air to equalise when submitted
WHERE TO BUY YOUR GEAR to water pressure caused by depth.
to the ocean.
Almost all quality dive masks are
For the beginner or budget conscious now manufactured from silicone as
Below is a list of the essential
you may find some items that are fit the comfort and seal is generally
elements of gear:
for entry level purpose in the second superior.
hand market, be it in a shop or on-
Dive mask
line. Due to the interest in the sport Spearguns are many and varied.
Snorkel
over recent years, many special- In the formative years of the sport,
Dive fins
ized suppliers are well stocked with hand-spears were common as was
Gloves
a large range of dive gear suitable the home-made speargun. Today,
Float-line
for all levels. As you progress, the there is little need to engineer your
High visibility float
gear you will require to match your own equipment, although some
Regulation dive flag
skill level will advance. In addition people still prefer to make their own
Wetsuit
to some of the other gear listed, gear for personal satisfaction.
Knife
experienced divers typically use the
Weight belt
following gear: Spearguns can be purchased in a
Speargun, handspear or camera
multitude of lengths, material and
Open cell wetsuit with hood. configurations. Keeping it simple is
NB: (Spears may only be propelled
Free-diving fins (longer & stiffer) the key to trouble free diving. Most
by human, rubber or pneumatic
Low volume dive mask. people start out with a speargun
forces)
around 1100mm in length. Such a
You will find by graduating to this device is suitable for fish from small
A torch is only permissible for
type of kit that your time in the reef species through to pelagic fish
searching without a spear. Crayfish
water will be more enjoyable and potentially up to 20kg given the right
or lobsters may only be extracted
productive. circumstances.
with bare or gloved hand, it is not
permissible to spear crayfish in NSW.
Generally pelagic hunters will favour
a speargun no less than 1300mm
using thicker (20mm) latex rubber,
or multiple rubbers, for more range
in open water. However, if you are
starting out, the consensus of ex-
perienced divers is to begin with a
1000mm to 1100mm speargun with
PHOTOGRAPHY: Luke Downie, Paul Miller, Extreme Spearfishing,
moderate power latex rubber initially.
OMER Australia & CRESSI SUB | BASIC EQUIPMENT | 25
Spearfishing 
Join a club (see directory at www.usfa.com.au) – see also buddy boards on
Basics spearfishing websites, or consult your local dive store.

T
rust your gear and learn to use Find a location that allows you to in the water, skippers require experi-
it. It is important to familiarise calmly enter the water and swim ence and need to be ever vigilant of
yourself with the function of safely to desired areas. divers’ proximity to the vessel. Always
your gear. Target practice on a sub- Above all, plan your dive in advance take the boat out of gear and prefer-
merged plastic bottle out on the sand remembering that tides and sea con- ably turn the engine off briefly whilst
is a good way to become acquainted ditions can change the dynamic of the diver climbs aboard.
with loading, discharging and handling the shoreline.
your equipment. Remember, spearguns The objective Anchoring the
are not toys and you risk serious in- before you get boat is normal
jury if you ignore the potential energy in the water practice for
contained within a loaded speargun. The length of time it takes to is to have a groups of
become confident is dependent on plan of where divers. It is
Note, it is an offence to load a the individual and whether or not you you intend to crucial that
speargun out of the water. Anyway, are diving with experienced buddies. exit the water. sufficient
fish are found in the water. The ef- Always inspect distance is left
fective range of most spearguns is Diving can be roughly categorised the location between rocks
very limited owing to water density. It into two kinds: carefully be- or obstacles
is therefore crucial to improve your forehand, note and that you
physiology and skills in the quest for 1. Shore diving key landmarks check the hold
improved catches. 2. Boat diving if necessary of the anchor
and always prior to ven-
GETTING STARTED Most people begin with shore diving tell someone turing off.
and even experienced divers who dive on shore of your plan and when you
You may be wondering which regularly from boats, find shore diving expect to return. A regulation dive flag for the boat

2
location to begin your diving. It won’t to be extremely rewarding. is mandatory and will help you see
be long though till you have a range 2. 
Boat diving can add a new di- your vessel from where you are in

1
of preferred locations. The idea is to 1. 
Shore diving as the name sug- mension to your spearfishing as a the water in the event it was to
try new areas and you can do this gests, implies entering and exiting boat allows flexibility. As is often break anchor. In any case you should
by joining a club or simply buddy up the water at the shoreline. the case, sea conditions such as look back at regular intervals and
with someone else. visibility, patches of cold water, be aware also of any wind or tide
You must stay within 20 metres of bluebottles and other factors im- changes that may affect the lay of
Generally speaking, experienced divers rock headlands adjacent to ocean pose obstructions to your dive. your anchor. A key advantage of boat
travel extensively and dive with many beaches when entering and exiting diving is the ability to immediately
different people to build their local the water. As this is the case, many Boat diving has the advantage of remove your fish from the water, both
knowledge and diving skills. divers choose to enter and exit via mobility, hence allowing the divers to to preserve it and to avoid predators.
the rocks. This can however be very quickly change to a more favourable A boat also enables you to carry
It is suggested that you start diving dangerous and even in moderate or safer location. spare gear, food, water and dive bud-
in sheltered areas and move out as sea conditions it takes judgment and dies, all of which can make for more
skill and confidence improves. practice. When a boat is mobile around divers pleasurable diving.
Photo: Simon Latta Photo: Alastair Cooke
26 | THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING IN NSW | | SPEARFISHING BASICS | 27
of the jaw. However in diving the This is vital when the diving depth is
Essential pressure change is often very sudden

If there is difficulty equalising, try
moving your jaw up and down increased. When diving in deep
Knowledge and unless these tubes are work- and side to side while clearing. water, one diver up and one diver
ing well the ears will suffer pain and This often has the effect of al- down, with the surface diver
inhibit descending. lowing air through these tubes. constantly watching his buddy is a
EQUALISING EAR PRESSURE good start. If the diving depth ex-
The first thing to know is NEVER 
When new to diving it may take ceeds the water visibility level, then
When taking up diving it is necessary force yourself through pain to get the safety diver would need to follow
some time and gradual improve-
to learn how to “equalise your ears”. deeper in the water. Many people the diver’s float rope. When the diver
ments to get these tubes operat-
As water is much heavier than air, have damaged their ear drums by below returns to the surface they are
ing well. It varies from individual
the deeper you descend the more doing this. If there is pain you must watched until at least 10 seconds af-
to individual.
pressure is brought to bear on your ascend. To equalise or “clear” one’s ter taking their first breath to ensure
body. At approximately 10 metres the ears it requires you to hold onto they are fully ok.

Certain foods and drinks are
pressure is equal to two atmospheres. your nose while you descend and as mucus forming depending on
soon as any pressure is felt a gentle individual reactions. Good results Buddy systems break down only
The water pressure on your ears as blow into your now-blocked nose will when there is insufficient communica-
are often obtained from removing
you descend is usually painful and push air up these Eustachian tubes tion between partners. A dive partner
these foods from your diet. It can
can cause damage. However there and bring the pressure in the ear should know what the other diver is
take a bit of experimenting to
is a simple solution. From the back cavities up to the outside water pres- doing so they can coordinate actions.
locate these. Milk, cheese, wine
of one’s throat up to the ear cavities sure. Dive masks are made so it is Dive buddies should be of similar
and beer are some of the more
exist two fine tubes. These are called possible to take hold of your nose abilities and purpose. For example, if
common mucus forming foods
the “Eustachian tubes”. Their purpose with your fingers. one partner cannot exceed 10 metres
that when omitted or limited in
is the equalisation of pressure. When depth they shouldn’t be watching out
ones diet can benefit the clearing
one ascends in an aircraft the pres- for someone diving 20 metres.
T I PS of ears.
sure change is adjusted with these 
tubes, usually with minor movements Your safety and life may well rest in
With a working knowledge and a

Never wait for pain or strong gentle approach the chance of your your partner’s hands and vice versa,
pressure to clear ones ears. It is diving being interrupted by major ear so make a point on ensuring you and
good practice to clear them once trouble is very minimal. your dive buddy know what to do in
or twice a metre starting from the an emergency and have practiced it.
surface, especially when new to THE BUDDY SYSTEM
the practice. HYPERVENTILATION
We have all heard the advice,

If you have a cold or excess mu- “Don’t dive alone”. This is good One of the most dangerous prac-
cus in the head these tubes often advice, however it needs to be ex- tices for a diver is hyperventilation.
get blocked. You are better off panded to be really effective. Add to This is the major cause of blackouts.
not diving than risking damage to the above, “Ensure you and your dive The term means: breathing at an
the ear drums. Using excess force buddy have the knowledge and are increased rate or depth than what is
to clear your ears often enflames drilled on how to handle a blackout required by the body. It is done by
the tubes and prevents diving for or samba situation”. Good freediving/ divers in a false hope that they will
a much longer period. spearfishing clubs will educate their get more oxygen. They take rapid or
members and it is a major reason many long deep breaths before diving.
why joining a club is beneficial. In ad-
dition to this it is important to adopt In general living the oxygen level in
or develop a buddy system of diving the blood stream is around 98%
that stresses safety. saturated. To bring this up to 100%
Photo: Wayne Judge
| ESSENTIAL KNOWLEDGE | 29
Physiological Dangers

it usually requires 3 – 4 long deep or during his first breath or up to


breaths. When a diver hyperventilates 8 – 10 seconds later. (It takes that
he quickly reaches the full satura- time from the first breath for the
tion of oxygen and as he continues oxygen to reach the brain.) It is a
he now lowers the level of carbon partial blackout and in most cases
dioxide. It is an increased level of the diver will be able to recover
carbon dioxide in ones blood that unassisted. However in a severe
triggers the body to breathe not a samba, the diver might not be able
low level of oxygen. So if you lower to hold their head above the water
the carbon dioxide level the natural and would drown if unassisted.
trigger mechanism is impaired and it
is likely that you will not get suf-  ee Sambas and Blackouts
S

2
ficient warning that you are at your briefings at www.usfa.com.au
limit. Decreased carbon dioxide can
make the dive more comfortable as 2.
Shallow Water Blackout is called
the body may not be contracting and this because it occurs close to
telling the diver that he has to get to the surface. The biggest change
the surface. A diver that hyperventi- of pressure happens in the top 10
lates is taking a serious risk. metres of water. When ascending,
this pressure change can have the
BLACKOUTS effect of reducing the oxygen level
in the blood and when someone
Shallow water blackout has been has dived past their safe limit it
recognised as a major hazard for causes a blackout. Unassisted, it is
spearfishers for years. The facts of very unlikely a diver will survive a
the matter confirm that blackouts shallow water blackout.
are the most dangerous hazard that
spearfishers have to face. Blackouts 3. Deep
 Water Blackout occurs 
from diving are caused by one thing: 
when a diver has exceeded his
lack of oxygen. There are three ob- limit by a long way making it
servable levels of blackouts. possible for him to blackout even
before he reaches the 10 metre
1. 
Loss of Motor Control is the danger zone. This does not
least severe form of blacking out. happen often. Blackouts and

1
This is also called a “Samba”. It Sambas all occur because a

3
can be as mild as a flickering of person exceeded their safe limits.
the eyes or slight trembling of the These events become fatal if the
body or at the other end of the diver doesn’t have a competent
scale it can be a complete loss diving partner who knows what to
of control with the body violently do in an emergency.
shaking. A samba happens when
the diver arrives at the surface,
Photo: Paul Miller
30 | THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING IN NSW | | PHYSIOLOGICAL DANGERS | 31
5. If you have just speared a fish, that divers do not interfere with A void close contact with wob-
Marine Hazards release hold of it, or hold it clear the Wobbygong as their raked and begong sharks; always watch
of the water via the spear shaft. needle point teeth are very real and where you lie on the bottom
6. If the shark is considered a dan- they have the ability to reach their and don’t reach into holes and

S
gerous species, leave the water own tail if provoked from behind. All cracks blindly when searching for
pearfishing in NSW is gener- and move to another area. sharks deserve respect. crayfish.
ally very safe. However, there If a large shark is seen, remain
are some potentially harmful There are a number of known T I PS calm and observe its behaviour.
marine creatures to look out for. dangerous sharks that inhabit NSW 
Seek local advice about shark Often the shark will show no
These include sharks, rays, ven- waters, these include the Great White risk if diving in an unfamiliar interest and soon move on. If the
omous fish, jelly fish, blue bottles Shark, Tiger Shark, Bull Shark, area. shark becomes agitated (short
and sea urchins. Problems can al- Hammerhead and Whaler species. jerky movements, rapid changes

If sharks are likely, try to re-
most always be avoided by taking Divers who venture into much deeper of direction, arched back and or
move your fish from the water as
a few simple precautions: water offshore or “blue” water, may downward pointing pectoral fins)
quickly as possible or consider
also encounter Mako, Silky Whaler, using a large float that can sup- back away immediately – often
Sharks are the most cause for fear Blue Shark or Oceanic White Tip. All such behaviour is a warning
port your catch out of the water.
normally for anyone venturing into these sharks are considered highly that you have encroached on a
At the least, tether your catch
ocean waters however they are prob- dangerous and again you should shark’s territory.
well away from your body.
ably the least of any danger encoun- immediately leave the water. 
Dive with a buddy if possible, so If a shark makes you feel uncom-
tered by most spearfishers.
that you can look out for each fortable, move quickly but quietly
Apart from Grey Nurse Sharks two other. from the area.
Sharks predate fish and other marine other sharks common to NSW waters
creatures and generally when in the 
Protective devices such as “Shark A void spearing any fish when a
generally not posing a risk to div- large potentially dangerous shark
presence of humans will shy away. Shield” are available, and these
ers are the Port Jackson Shark and is nearby – the struggles of a
have a good reputation. They
If you see a shark this is a check list Wobbygong Shark. It is recommended speared fish will quickly excite
work by creating an shark-
of what to do: repelling electric field around the almost any shark and could sud-
wearer. denly turn a controlled situation
! 1. F
irstly try to identify the species –

Places to be wary include seal into a very awkward one.
it is likely not to be dangerous.
colonies and offshore islands and
2. Keep calm.
pincacles.
3. 
Keep facing in the direction of the Photo: www.bwhi.com.au
Hammerhead
shark. 
Murky estuarine waters are es-
4. 
If possible raise your hand or pecially risky, particularly in the
speargun to signal your boat driver northern half of NSW during the
that you require pickup. Photo: www.bwhi.com.au warmer months.
Great White

Photo: Brett Vercoe


Grey Nurse Shark


 Photo: Brett Vercoe

Photo: www.bwhi.com.au
Blue Shark
T I PS
VENOMOUS FISH
Marine Hazards – these species won’t go to much
trouble getting out of your way.
A
 lways wear proper gloves when
spearfishing or when cleaning
NSW waters contain a wide variety 
Take great care when handling a your catch. Gloves will give good
Rays are very common on sandy of fish that have venomous spines. speared fish that has venomous protection against most spines,
bottoms. They range in size from the While none of these are deadly, they spines. Remember that spines can teeth and gill rakers, and will
diameter of a small plate to around can certainly ruin your day, cause remain dangerous long after a make handling a slippery fish
2 metres across. Most rays bear one you much pain and possibly necessi- fish has been captured. much easier. Gloves also make
or more serrated venomous spines tate a trip to hospital. Venomous fish handling crayfish and crabs much

The venom in these fish does
near their tail, and will not hesitate commonly encountered by spearfish- less painful.
not effect their eating qualities
to jab them into a diver or wader ers include catfish, spinefoot (black S
 pecies that have very large
as it is destroyed by heat and in
who accidentally lands or steps on trevally), red rock cod, lionfish and teeth (e.g. longfinned pike and
any case is contained in discrete
them. Apart from the effects of the flathead. Most of the venomous fish Spanish mackerel) must always
‘venom sacs’ rather than in the
venom, the larger rays can inflict seri- have venomous spines in their dorsal be handled with extreme care –
flesh. Some venomous species
ous, possibly life-threatening wounds. fin (i.e along their back). However, the gloves are unlikely to help much
(such as the red rock cod and
Fortunately, rays normally only sting flathead has them at the side of its if you get bitten.
the dusky flathead) are excellent
people as a last resort in self de- head.
eating.
fence – they will usually retreat from JELLYFISH
a person at the first opportunity. A 
All venomous fish only use their
FISH GENERALLY
special type of ray is known as the spines in self-defence – such as Jellyfish are soft-bodied animals
electric ray or ‘numbfish’. If touched, when a person handles one or related to sea anemones and corals.
Apart from those fish that have ven-
this species will deliver a unpleasant when a diver swims into one. They normally bear a number of ten-
omous spines, there are many other
electric shock, although this is not 
Always allow for wave action and tacles trailing behind a pulsating bell-
common species that can cause
normally dangerous. currents when swimming close to shaped body. Each of the tentacles
serious injury if carelessly handled.
T I PS venomous species such as lion- Some fish have sharp teeth and/or (and there may be a few or several
fish, red rock cod and catfishes gill rakers, while even non-venomous hundred depending on the species)
A lways look very carefully when comes armed with large numbers of
spines can easily cause infection and
landing on a sandy bottom – small stinging cells called ‘nemato-
considerable discomfort. Crustaceans
rays are often half-buried making cysts’. These activate on contact with
such as crabs and crayfish can also
detection more difficult. prey or an unfortunate swimmer, each
cause injury with their nippers and/or
B e especially careful in murky sharp body spines. firing a tiny venom-laden dart into
water, whether diving to the bot- the victim. The body and tentacles of
tom or wading in shallow water. Photo: Simon Latta jellyfish are often pale and/or trans-
If wading where rays are likely, Photo: Simon Latta Red Rock Cod lucent – making them difficult to see,
Lion fish
never lift your feet. Instead, slide especially if the water is a bit murky.
your feet along the bottom with While the jellyfish found in NSW are
each step. Any rays that you
bump into will normally retreat Photo: Simon Latta
harmlessly. Photo: Simon Latta
Be careful when searching for crayfish. Eels have
very sharp teeth & know how to use them
Photo: Brett Vercoe

Photo: Brett Vercoe


! 
NOTE:If jellyfish or blue bottles are likely to be a problem where you plan to dive,
wear extra protection such as a full suit, hood and gloves.

Marine Hazards related to jellyfish and also come SEA URCHINS
Continued ... armed with masses of nematocysts 
on each of their long tentacles. How- Sea urchins are extremely common e
 xtremely sharp spines that can
ever, unlike the jellyfish, the blue bot- amongst rocks, particularly in shallow even penetrate gloves.
tle is actually a colony of organisms water. While most species are non-
not considered deadly, some of them B
 e especially careful when diving
– one of which forms the distinctive venomous, they usually do have very
can give a nasty sting – especially in surge-affected shallows: avoid
gas-filled float. Other individuals in sharp spines that can break off in
if any tentacles are sucked down a being pushed against rocks and
the colony make up the tentacles – the skin very easily. Embedded spines
diver’s snorkel. watch where you grab the bot-
which can be up to several metres are often very painful, are difficult to tom.
long. Blue bottles cannot swim. They remove and can cause infection.
Jellyfish are often unpredictable in instead float passively, driven by wind A
 lso be careful when getting into
their occurrence. However, they are and currents. Blue bottle stings cause T I PS and out of the water: bad injuries
commonly encountered where cur- an immediate sharp burning pain but can result from stepping on a

If wishing to collect sea urchins
rents cause large amounts of plank- are not normally dangerous. However, sea urchin.
for their edible qualities, always
ton and scum to accumulate. cramps may follow and if tentacles use a suitable knife and wear a
Jellyfish should not be confused with are swallowed, the resultant swelling pair of gloves.
the harmless ‘comb jellies’, which also may interfere with breathing.
have a clear or translucent body but 
Only collect the common sea
lack tentacles. Common jellyfish found T I PS urchin species. Avoid the rare
in NSW and ‘exotic looking’ ones, as these

Blue bottles live on the open

Antony Judge
known to sting may be venomous or have
ocean. They are blown towards
people include land during onshore winds and
the jimble

Photo: Matthew Poulton


Spanish Mackerel possess dangerously sharp teeth
away from land during offshore
(often found winds.
in calm warm

Photo:

During onshore winds, blue bot-
water), the
tles can often be avoided by div-
little mauve
ing at sites that face away from
stinger (often
the wind (for example, during
found amongst
a south or south easterly wind
concentrations
chose a site that faces north or
of plankton)
north east)
and the lion’s
mane hair jelly 
Onshore winds can sometimes
(quite common cause blue bottles to accumu-
in Jervis Bay). late in heavy concentrations just
below steep cliffs. This occurs
BLUE BOTTLES because the wind is effectively
blocked, leaving nothing to push
Blue bottles (also the blue bottles onto the rocks.
known as ‘Portuguese Do not attempt to dive where this
man o’war’) are is happening.

There are a variety of other hazards that spearfishers need to


Photo Source
Internet
Jelly Fish

avoid. These include waves, currents, exposure to cold, sunburn,


rocks, equipment, plus boats and other watercraft. Problems with these
hazards can be avoided by always having the correct equipment and the
knowledge and ability to use it properly.
Weather And Sea Conditions
! 
Always check the forecast. Visit “Coastal waters Forecast for New South
Wales” www.bom.gov.au

W
aves are caused by the ac- or perhaps along a section of 
A freshening summer afternoon
tion of wind on water. Waves coastline that is better protected sea breeze pushing against a big
can be generated locally, from the prevailing swell direction. run-out tide is a common but
causing short steep ‘seas’, typically 
If possible, check weather reports, very hazardous scenario – that is
characterised by a rough choppy surf reports or on-line waverider best avoided.
ocean with lots of white caps. Alter- buoy data before going out – but
natively, they can be generated many always remember to allow for SKIPPERING AND WAVES
hundreds of kilometres away, arriving local conditions when considering Photo: Alastair Cooke
Weather is variable & can quickly change sea conditions
as long powerful ‘swells’, which can reports or forecasts. Great care is also needed when
rear up and break heavily in shal- When travelling between sites by

Be very careful when diving in anchoring or manoeuvring a boat
low water even when the ocean itself boat, you should follow these tips:
close amongst the ‘white water’. close to rocks. Waves can rear up
looks calm. Along the NSW coastline, and break with little warning. When
This is where the surge is particu-
potentially dangerous swells prevail A  lways match your speed to
larly strong and it can easily push using a boat close to the rocks you
most of the time, meaning that spear the conditions. Travelling too
you onto sharp barnacle-encrust- should:
fishers need to choose the timing fast for the prevailing waves not
ed rocks. The best technique is to
and location of their dives carefully. only gives you an uncomfortable
stay close to the bottom, holding 
Always err on the side of cau-
pounding, but can cause injury
on if necessary with one hand. tion by remaining well beyond any
Always assess conditions care-
 to passengers or damage to your
white water or breaking waves,
fully before beginning a dive. If in boat or equipment.
CROSSING COASTAL BARS especially if the water is shallow.
doubt, don’t go out. By remaining well clear, you give If driving into waves causes exces-
If conditions are too rough at
 Take particular care when taking a yourself a margin of safety should sive pounding, reduce speed. You
your intended site, it may be boat across an ‘ocean bar’. These a set of bigger than usual waves can also try attacking the waves
possible to find a nearby site areas, typically at the entrance of suddenly come through. at a angle – but only if this is
with much calmer conditions – for estuaries and rivers, can be extreme- safe for your particular boat in

Keep a sharp eye on the ocean
example in a harbour or estuary ly dangerous. You should remember the conditions prevailing at the
at all times, and be prepared to
the following in relation to crossing time.
react quickly.
bars: W hen driving in the same direc-

Pay particular care when anchor-
tion as the waves, be very careful
ing. Always allow for possible wind

Ensure everyone on board wears not to let breaking waves catch
or current changes that might
a lifejacket (it’s the law). up to your boat and make sure
push your boat into dangerous

Make sure your boat’s engine(s) you don’t lose control coming
water or expose the stern of your
are working perfectly before going down the face of a wave.
boat to waves.
to sea across a bar. If inexperienced, first practice driv-

Preferably have a person remain

Get local advice about a bar if in ing your vessel in good conditions
on board at all times when div-
any doubt. and consider taking a more expe-
ing. If this is not possible, try to
rienced person along for advice

Consider doing a bar crossing remain close to your boat.
until you are fully comfortable
course. 
When dropping off or picking up with the handling of your vessel

The best time to cross a bar is divers make sure that you remain in a range of conditions.
on a rising tide, close to the top well clear of any danger. It isn’t
of the tide. much good dashing in close for

Run-out tides will usually increase that quick pick-up if your boat
the height of any waves on a ends up being swamped!
bar and cause them to break in
Photo: Paul Miller deeper water. Photo: Joe Hyzdal
Weather And Sea Conditions
tance until the rip is no longer felt These currents can also bring in the
Continued... – at which time it should be easy keenly sought ‘blue water’, with warm
to swim straight into the beach temperatures, excellent visibility and
CURRENTS pay to plan your dive so that the (taking special care to avoid any good fish. Sustained southerly winds
tide initially takes you one way swimmers or board riders). coinciding with an active EAC close
Currents occur when water is moving and then back the other way once offshore give the best chance of
from one place to another. They can it turns. Other small rips occur off the rocks, the blue water coming all the way
be caused by tides, breaking waves 
High tide generally brings clearer wherever water pushed ashore by into the rocks. Conversely, sustained
or broad ocean circulation. In some water. waves is funnelled back out to sea. north easterly winds tend to cause
situations, currents can be quite dan- These rips, which are usually re- upwellings of cold ‘green water’ along
gerous. However, they can sometimes  reaking waves generate so-called
B vealed by a degree of whitewater, the coast and the displacement
give a diver a welcome push, and ‘rip currents’. For spearfishers, the can easily be avoided by swimming of any clearer blue waters to well
even concentrate fish in a particular most important type of rip is the out and around. They often provide offshore.
location. ‘headland rip’. This occurs because excellent fishing opportunities for
waves normally attack a beach at divers willing to get down under the The up-current side of a reef will
 idal currents primarily affect har-
T a slight angle, according to wind whitewater. often hold lots of baitfish, and is
bours and estuaries, and are pre- and/or swell direction – resulting in a good place to seek large pelagic
dictable – with normally two high a pronounced movement of water The broad ocean circulation off NSW species if conditions allow.
tides and two low tides in any 24 along the beach. When this mov- is dominated by a series of large
hour period. ing water reaches a headland, it is ‘eddies’ that move down the coast If the current is strong consider the
Tidal currents are normally stron-
 deflected seawards. from Queensland – the so-called East following tips:
gest when the tide is about half Australian Current (EAC). The EAC T I PS
way out or about half way in; they Headland rips can give a diver a essentially remains out beyond the If shore diving seek out a cove or
are normally weakest at the top useful ride. However, they can make continental shelf. However, in combi- sheltered bay.
and bottom of the tide (ie so- the return trip much more difficult. If nation with prevailing winds, it causes If diving from a boat, have some-
called ‘slack water’) caught by a headland rip when trying variable and unpredictable currents one remain on board and follow
They are usually stronger where
 to get back to the beach, one of the in coastal waters – particularly off the divers as they drift with the
there is a narrowing or constriction following strategies may help: the ends of headlands and out at current – make sure that each
in a waterway – for example, near deeper reefs, pinnacles and FADs. diver has a clearly visible float
the ocean entrance to a large 
Exiting nearer the end of the head- and flag, and ideally a whistle and
lake, off the end of a prominent land (if safe) and walking back. While these ‘broad ocean currents’ mirror.
headland within a harbour or 
Swimming back by keeping very might not be as strong as tides or
If you feel strong enough to swim
where shallows intervene between close to the rocks, where the water rips, they are potentially very danger-
into a current, make sure that you
deeper areas. is often relatively calm and shallow ous as they occur over large areas
only have to do this on the way
and the current less strong - hold and can affect divers in places where
When diving in an unfamiliar har-
 out – and not on the way back,
on to the bottom as the current the shoreline or other relief is not
bour or estuary, seek local advice when you will have less energy.
pulls against you and swim forward available.
about the tides. In some locations,
it is only safe to dive during the whenever a wave surges towards
‘slack water’ at the top or bottom the beach.
of the tide. At other places, it may 
Swimming away from the headland
and along the beach a short dis-

Photo: Alastair Cooke


Weather And Sea Conditions
Continued...
a 7mm suit might be required ROCK HOPPING
SUNBURN T I PS in the south. However, individual
requirements will vary. Most divers Rock hoppers have to be careful with It is often difficult to see approach-
This is a very common but easily will be comfortable in a 3mm suit
preventable condition. waves too, particularly when entering ing waves while still in the water. If
during summer. or exiting the water. When rock hop- it is rough, it may be best for the
Always use a good quality broad
 
A great deal of heat loss occurs ping always remember to: most experienced person to exit first
spectrum sunblock, shirt, sunglass- through the head – and a hood and call the others in during a gap
es and hat when outdoors during will make a big difference. Watch the waves for as long as
 in the waves.
the day. 
If diving without a wetsuit, only do possible at your intended spot
so when the water is very warm, before entering – ideally for 20
Be especially careful when boat-
 minutes or so.
and always remain close to your
ing or near the water, as the sun’s
exit or boat. Plan your exit before getting in

reflections will greatly increase the
the water, and have at least one
risk of sunburn. 
Shivering is an early warning sign
alternative exit (it is often easier to
 loud does not appreciably de-
C that your body’s core is starting
get in than get out!)
crease the risk of sunburn unless to cool. Don’t ignore it – get out
of the water as soon as possible Always allow for changes in the

it is very heavily overcast. tide and weather.
Unless diving very early or late in
 and refrain from further diving until
the day, consider wearing a hood properly re-warmed. Be alert for strong surges and

or applying sunblock to the ears, 
Re-warming is best achieved by sudden fluctuations in water level
scalp and any other exposed parts seeking shelter (especially from the when entering or leaving the water.
of the body. wind), getting dry and having some If conditions are tricky, try timing

energy-dense food and/or warm your entry so that you can push
HYPOTHERMIA drinks. Preferably stay out of the off into a small or medium-sized
water until you can raise a slight wave just as it reaches the wa-
Hypothermia (also known as expo- sweat with light exercise. ter’s edge. This will usually give
sure) occurs when the body’s core 
Occasionally very cold waters af- you an immediate but controlled
becomes too cold. Diving carries with fect the NSW coast even in the boost across the break zone, and
it a significant risk of hypothermia middle of summer. This is most allow you several seconds to reach
because water draws heat away from likely to occur after a sustained deeper water before the next wave
the body many times faster than period of north easterly winds. In hits.
air of the same temperature. Early extreme cases, the water tempera- When exiting in tricky conditions,

stages of hypothermia can be subtle ture can revert to August levels it might be useful to time your
and occur without a person realising even in January. 
 The sudden final swim so that a medium-sized
– with signs such as poor decision- 
cold shock that occurs upon wave literally lifts you up onto
making, reduced co-ordination and entering the water should not be the rocks. Again, this will give you
delayed reactions. confused with hypothermia. several seconds to grab your gear
and scramble further up the rocks
Always wear an adequate wetsuit
 Cold water, can still be dangerous to before the next wave arrives.
for the conditions, and if necessary an unprotected person, as it causes Watch out for any less experienced

a hood. 
 A 5mm thickness full rapid involuntary breathing and there- divers in your group, especially
length wetsuit with hood is gen-
 fore possible loss of airway control when exiting the water.
erally adequate for central and immediately after entering the water.
northern NSW during winter, while

Photo: Paul Miller


Dealing With Emergencies
Emergency Call Service Dial Triple Zero (000) in a life threatening emergency situation from any telephone ! All divers should attend an appropriate first aid course to learn more about
the recognition and correct management of these and other situations.
(landline, mobile or payphone).

Situation Likely signs / symptoms First aid



Drowning or near-drowning Collapse; lack of breathing; unconscious; bluish
 Clear
 and open airway; mouth-to-mouth resuscitation (EAR) or, if no pulse, cardiopul-
skin (especially around lips); no pulse monary resuscitation (CPR). Urgently seek medical assistance. Have someone remain
with casualty at all times. Even if casualty appears to have recovered, they need to
be taken to hospital for assessment – near downing can lead to serious lung compli-
cations.
 
Serious cuts, lacerations or bites Profuse bleeding; shock (weak rapid pulse, cold
 Control bleeding (apply pressure/ cover with dressing). Lie casualty down if possible,

clammy skin, rapid breathing, faintness and/or with head and chest slightly lower than rest of body. Keep casualty warm. Avoid mov-
pale skin); collapse ing casualty unless necessary. Seek urgent medical assistance.


Head injury Wounds to the scalp or face; headache; loss of
 P
 lace casualty in comfortable position with head and shoulders slightly raised. Avoid
consciousness; loss of memory; altered or abnor- unnecessary movement. If unconscious, place in recovery position and monitor breath-
mal responses to commands and touch; blood ing and circulation. Control bleeding, but do not apply pressure to skull if fracture
or fluid escaping from the nose or ears; unequal suspected. Even in cases of apparently minor head injury, the casualty should always
pupils and/or blurred vision seek medical aid.

Venomous fish/ stingray stings  evere pain; local swelling/ redness at site of
S R
 emove any remaining stings or barbs. Apply hot water (checking that it is not too
sting; possible collapse and/or shock in severe hot). Seek urgent medical aid if general symptoms appear or if injury is extensive.
cases.


Jellyfish or bluebottle stings Severe burning pain; red marks at point of
 Carefully
 pick off any remaining tentacles with tweezers or fingers.
contact; in severe cases breathing difficulties and/ A
 pply cold pack or ice. Seek urgent medical attention if general symptoms occur, if
or cramps. casualty stung in mouth or throat or if breathing becomes difficult.

Sea urchin spine injuries Pain and tenderness at site of injury Remove spines with tweezers. Clean wound and guard against infection.

Sunburn Reddened skin; blisters in severe cases Apply cold water and give cool drinks. Seek medical aid if blistering occurs.


Hypothermia Feeling cold/ shivering; clumsiness; slurred speech;
 Immediately get casualty out of the water/ wind/ cold. Remove wet clothing. Gently
apathy; irrational behaviour; slow and weak pulse; dry and warm casualty. Avoid excessive movement. Give warm (non alcoholic)
loss of consciousness drinks if conscious.
Photos: Alastair Cooke

Planning Trips Bunch of friends on


a weekend away

T
rips away with dive buddies, CHECKLIST OF KEY ITEMS
family and friends can provide
lasting memories. NSW has many Accommodation
interesting and outstanding dive desti- Linen
nations along the entire coast, offer- Food
ing the marine adventurer with many Water
options. Ice box & ice
Plastic bags
Planning is the key to successful and Filleting knife
enjoyable excursions. Some consid- Towel
erations that you should take into Sunblock
account are as follows: Hat
Camera
• 
Time of year (peak versus off peak Spearfishing equipment
“holiday season”, water temperature Spare tackle and gear
and target species) Weighing scales
• Weather outlook Fish measure
• Sea state Bag and size limits table
• Water visibility Tide chart
• Local knowledge Nautical charts
• Which fish are ‘on’ Marine Parks information
• Tides 
NSW recreational fishing fee
• River entrances if boating receipt
• Coast guard contact details
• 
Fall back plans – safe havens or T I PS
general tourist activities
The sea surface temperature can be
easily checked by visiting: “Latest NSW
Coast Satellite Image”
http://mhl.nsw.gov.au

Photo: Adrian Wayne


Steve Wayne, Jim Coulter (the late) and Adrian
Wayne. Fine Mulloway & Kingfish taken over
Christmas break at Port Stephens

46 | THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING IN NSW |


Common Species In nsw Waters

T
his is a guide to some of the Bastard Trumpter, (“Tassie” or “Sil- Bonito usually hang wider out on Crayfish and Slipper Crayfish inhabit
key species encountered in ver Trumpeter”) is usually found on headlands or offshore reef systems rocky holes and crevices typically in shal-
NSW waters that have excellent rocky reef adjacent to sandy areas and cruise in large schools. low water. Be conscious of bag and size
table qualities. Given the latitudinal typically in depths below 10 metres. limits as well as collection method.
span and coastal terrain of the NSW
shoreline, water temperature varies Photo: Sascha Schulz Photo: Simon Latta
considerably from areas in the North Slipper Cray

of the state compared to those in


the Southern regions. For that reason,
Image: NSW DPI
certain species tend to be mainly
found in either warmer water whereas
other species inhabit cooler waters. Bream can be found around most
Seasonality can also determine the rocky areas typically from the surf
time of year you are likely to encoun- zone to the extremity of the reef or,
ter certain species, again with water commonly in estuarine systems open
temperature playing a key role. Blackspot Goatfish can be found to spearfishing.
over rocky reef systems adjacent
Photo: Sascha Schulz
to sandy areas often in less than 5
Abalone are found clinging to rocks metres.
mostly in shallow rocky areas gener-
ally in proximity to weed or kelp. Be
conscious of bag limits and
restrictions.

Photo: Sascha Schulz



A torch is only permissible
when searching without a spear

Photo: Sascha Schulz


Photo: Simon Latta
Cobia are common in warmer waters Nest of Crayfish
either around islets, sandy patches
Boarfish (Giant Boarfish and Long amongst reef or traveling in schools
Snout species) appear cyclically on with large round stingrays or sharks.
the top of the tide around small boul-
ders often near the sand line.

Photo: Alastair Cooke

Photo: Brett Vercoe


48 | THE GUIDE TO SPEARFISHING IN NSW |
Common Species In nsw Waters Mangrove Jack favour boulders, Mulloway or “Jewfish” can be
overhangs and offshore reefs. They found year round along headlands in
Continued.. can often be found in the proximity to turbulent shallow water, offshore reefs
Sawtail Surgeon fish as can be seen. or structure.
Eastern Australian Salmon school Kingfish frequent offshore reefs and Sawtail Surgeon
in large numbers in protected coastal headlands where there is dynamic verti-
bays and around headlands through- cal structure and often travel in schools.
out NSW. Large specimens can often cruise alone.

Photo: Sascha Schulz

Mangrove Jack
Photo: Brett Vercoe Photo: Chris Maiers

Photo: Simon Latta


Morwong come in three main spe- Rock Blackfish or “Drummer”
cies (Red, Silver and Banded) and can can be found year round on most
be found hugging the sand line or headlands generally close to rocks,
Flathead usually lie in wait amongst Leatherjacket (pictured: Sixspine reef structure itself. under wash or at the entrances of
intermixed rock and sand in bays, Leatherjacket) are common throughout rocky caverns.
estuarine systems or sometimes head- central to southern regions around rock
Photo: Sascha Schulz
lands. and kelp covered reefs. Photo: Sascha Schulz

Photo: Naomi Kielly Photo: Sascha Schulz

Photo : Sascha Schulz

Photo: Simon Latta

Luderick or “Blackfish” tend to


school in pockets of turbulent water on
headlands or amongst boulders.

Photo: Sascha Schulz

Photo: Brett Vercoe

Photo: Sascha Schulz


The New South Wales Recreational Saltwater Fishing Guide is the primary reference

Common Species In nsw Waters


! for all State fishing regulations. It contains additional details of NSW species.
See also www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

Continued... BLUE WATER SPECIES

Silver Trevally is a schooling spe- Tailor frequent rocky headlands and Mahi Mahi prefer warm water gener- Yellowfin Tuna arrive in cooler
cies more common in southern NSW, sandy patches often schooling in large ally some distance offshore in blue months and are mainly a distant off-
adjacent to rocky reef and near drop- numbers. Large specimens are more water and aggregate around floating shore species requiring a specialised
offs. commonly singular and move quickly. objects such as buoys or debris. approach that entails teamwork and
cubing pilchards for results.
Photo: Sascha Schulz

Photo: Darren Higgins


Photo: Sascha Schulz

Snapper can be found in a variety Tarwhine look and behave like


of depths usually out in the open bream and are principally ocean or
where sand meets reef. bay dwellers preferring to inhabit large
boulders and crevices. Wahoo roam warm ocean currents
and predate baitfish around sharp
rises in offshore reef structure, around
islands or fish aggregating devices
(FADS).

Photo: Brett Vercoe


Photo: Sascha Schulz

Spanish Mackerel tend to cruise


flat reef areas where sandy patches
and baitfish exist.
Photo: Paul Miller
Photo: Brett Vercoe

Photo: Brett Vercoe


Publications
 that provide more
detailed information about habitat,
eating quality, distribution and
characteristics of Australian fish can

be a valuable source of reference.

Image: NSW DPI

| COMMON SPECIES IN NSW WATERS | 53


Looking After Your Catch
the way through

0
ne of the biggest rewards of the standard method of cutting all the and run along common ways to pre-
spear fishing is the ability to way through the gill latch to the spine. the spine until pare fish is to fillet/
catch a vast array of seafood. the tail section cut into pieces (cutlets
As spearfishers we have a moral and Next, either freeze or refrigerate your is free. etc) or to keep whole.
ethical obligation to make the best catch. Fish to be kept whole
use out of what we catch. It is our Next return to need to be cleaned
responsibility to decide in advance of Ideally all seafood should be eaten the head and thoroughly. If scaling
capture whether we are going to eat fresh within 48 hours of capture to slice along the is required it is much
that fish. maximize flavour and nutritional value. bones head- easier to do so before
Fish can be frozen for periods up to ing towards gutting. To clean your
It follows that it is important to look generally 3 months, however it differs the tail. Repeat Photo: Craig Shephard fish run a knife all the
after your catch properly. As soon as from specie to specie with oily fish not this process until way from the anal opening to the gill
a fish dies bacteria starts to grow and keeping as well. you reach the pin bones. Cut through latch. The intestines are then removed
multiply within the flesh and internal these but not the ribs. Continue cut- along with all other internal organs
organs. This is a natural process that When out on the water the next best ting along ribs until fillet is free from including the gill rakers. It is important
allows living organisms to be broken option is to place the fish in an ice the frame. Repeat on other side. Be- to clean the gut cavity well as this
down and recycled in our environment. slurry. If this is not available place your fore skinning make a cut through the is where most bacteria are present.
catch in straight seawater or at least flesh but not the skin on either side Make sure that you also remove the
To inhibit bacteria growth and improve cover with a wet towel and keep in the of the pin bones. Next skin the fillet blood line that runs along the spine at
eating quality fish should be chilled, shade. The best slurry can be made starting at the tail end gently working the top of the gut cavity. Special gut
bled and cleaned as soon as possible. from four parts of normal ice mixed the knife between the skin and flesh brushes are available that make the job
with one part of fresh seawater. Slurries keeping the knife near parallel to the much easier.
Once a fish has been captured des- should be maintained as close to freez- cutting board. Once the skin is free
patch it immediately with a spike to ing (0°C) as possible, but not below, as the pin bones can be easily removed. If looked after properly, seafood is
the brain (iki-jime) using a knife or partial freezing will occur and bleeding If the fillets have lots of blood or delicious and very healthy for you, just
other sharp implement. Not only will will not be as effective. Saltwater ice scales on them then they can be make sure that you don’t take more
it stop the fish from thrashing which is not recommended as it can cause washed in seawater but try and avoid than you need so that there is plenty
is a safety issue, but it also improves partial freezing of the fish. It has been freshwater as it will leach out nutrients to catch in the future.
fish quality. Iki-Jime is only affective found that partial freezing (between and flavour from the fish. Fish should
while the fish is still alive and limits -1°C and -6°C) will encourage spoilage. be dried with paper towel be-
the amount of time that the fish is This makes it important not to add salt fore packaging.
stressed. The correct spot for Iki-Jime to the slurry, as this will make it freeze.
is approximately one eye width back Next they should be wrapped
and slightly above the centre line of It is possible to fillet fish that have not tightly in clingwrap or placed in
the eye. The position can vary from been gutted making the process quicker zip lock bags. Try to remove all
specie to specie though usually not by but care should be taken not to punc- air and ideally use a vacuum
much. ture the gut cavity. sealer if one is available.
Effective bleeding will reduce A diagonal cut is made as close to the
discoloration of the flesh, spoilage and Processing your catch usually
pectoral fin as possible. Next the knife involves filleting or cleaning
bruising.
is run from the head to the tail just your catch to the extent that it
under the skin close to the dorsal fin. is ready for immediate con-
To bleed your fish make a cut just
Just before the tail push the knife all sumption or packaging for long
behind the gill membrane which will
sever the main artery as opposed to term storage. The two most
Photo: ICEY-TEK
Photo: Paul Miller

References to key publications:


Bag Limits Legal Sizes & Bag Limits
1. 
Underwater Fishing in Australia and New Zealand (A 200 page book providing a
Min Bag

And Legal Sizes comprehensive overview of spearfishing containing information specific to New
Saltwater Varieties Sze Lmt
Abalone............................................11.7.......2
Australian Bass................................ ......... South Wales ~ ISBN 0-646-40642-6. – books@motpub.com.au
Australian Salmon..........................na..........5
2. International Freediving and Spearfishing News ~ subs@motpub.com.au

N
Bream (All Species).........................25........20

SW DPI have free guides and Balmain Bug.....................................10........20 3. Spearfishing Downunder Magazine
Cockles, Mussels, Pipis...................na.......50
brochures available which detail Crab (Black Mangrove & Mud)......8.5........5

the current size and bag limits


Crab (Blue Swimmer)......................6.........20
Crab (Spanner).................................9.3......10
USFA Affiliated Clubs
for certain species.
Cunjevoi.............................................na.......20 and Contact Details
Deep Sea Fish
(Hapuka, Bar Cod, Bass Groper,
Gem Fish, Blue Eyed Cod)..............na.......
SPEARFISHING CLUBS
We remind persons that these regu- Estuary Perch.................................... .........
Eel (Short & Long Finned).............30........20 Tweed Heads (tweed@usfa.com.au)
lations may change from time to Flathead (Dusky).............................36........10
Evans Head (evans@usfa.com.au)
Only 1 over 70cm
time. Flathead (All other)........................33........20 Coffs Harbour (coffs@usfa.com.au)
Groper (Blue, Red/Brown)............na..........<
Hairtail...............................................na........10 Port Macquarie (port_m@usfa.com.au
REGULATIONS

}
Kingfish.............................................60...........5 Newcastle (hunter@usfa.com.au)
Lobster (Eastern Rock)..................10.4
Maximum Size 20cm Port Stephens (port_s@usfa.com.au)
The USFA encourages the taking of
Lobster (Southern Rock)
Male...................................11
2
Central Coast (ccoast@usfa.com.au)
Sydney (mosman@usfa.com.au)
small quantities of a number of dif- Female...............................10.5
Lobster (Painted)............................na..........2
Sydney (northshore@usfa.com.au)
ferent species rather than bag limit Lobster (Slipper, Flat)....................na..........2
Luderick............................................25........20 Sydney (revesby@usfa.com.au)
catches of individual species. By be- Mackerel (Spanish, Spotted)........na..........5
Sydney (sanssouci@usfa.com.au)
Mangrove Jack................................na..........5
ing selective and keeping well within Marlin................................................na..........# Sydney (stgeorge@usfa.com.au)
the bag limits, we help preserve fish Morwong (Banded)........................na..........5
Morwong (Jackass, Rubberlip)....28........20 Batemans Bay (bbay@usfa.com.au)
stocks. Morwong (Red)...............................25..........5
Moses Perch.....................................na..........5
South Coast (scoast@usfa.com.au)
Mullet (Bully, Sea)...........................30........20

In terms of fishing regulations includ-


Mullet (Poddy)................................. ........20
Mulloway (Jewfish).........................45..........5 SOCIAL DIVERS NSW
ing licensing, the NSW Recreational
Only 2 over 70cm Social USFA Members (memberships@usfa.com.au)
Oysters...............................................na.......50
Saltwater Fishing Guide is the es- Pearl Perch........................................na..........5

sential companion to the Guide to


Prawns...............................................10 Ltrs
Rock Black Fish................................30........10
FREEDIVING CLUBS Sydney
Sailfish...............................................na..........2 sydneyfreedivers@usfa.com.au
Spearfishing in NSW waters. Please Scallops.............................................na........50

ensure you ask for a copy at places


Sea Urchins.......................................na.......10
Sharks & Rays...................................> ............5
where you find this guide. Snapper.............................................30........10
Spearfish........................................... na..........2
Surgeon (Sawtail)...........................na...........5
Swordfish..........................................na..........2
Tailor..................................................30........20
Tarwhine...........................................20........20
Trevallies...........................................30........20
Tuna (90cm or more)....................................2
Tuna (less than 90cm)..................................5
Turban Snails...................................7.5.......20
Wahoo................................................na..........5
Whiting.............................................. = = .........20
Only 1 fish over 35cm
2 per day - 4 in possession
5 total - Only 2 Gemfish
Live Bait Only - Less than 15cm
# Limit of 2 ~ by species
< Limit of 2 ~ by line only
> 91cm ~ School Shark only
= 27cm ~ Sand Whiting only
=
Correct at time of publication 1 July’08
Protected Species
Queensland Groper Eastern Blue Devil Fish
Estuary Cod Elegant Wrasse Black Cod
For NSW Fishing advisory information or to Great White Shark Grey Nurse Shark
Herbsts Nurse Shark Ballina Angel Fish
obtain resources call 1300550474 or Green Saw Fish Weedy (Common) Seadragon
visit www.dpi.nsw.gov.au All sizes in centimetres

Photo: www.bwhi.com.au
www.usfa.com.au