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Bahamas Dreaming

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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S

sturgeon

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2002
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In my opinion, it's not the amount of take that's most important (of course it has a big impact though) but it's having places that fish can be left in peace to grow big and spawn in that's most important to protect. I agree that myself as a freediver can probably outshoot many SCUBA divers during a day of spearfishing but the difference is that I am limited to certain depths and SCUBA divers are not (I have friends here who regularly spear on SCUBA down to 200 ft). And in the Bahamas because of the sling thing most people are limited even more so by depth. To me, 60 ft is a deep depth to use a sling. I prefer 30-45 ft. So that means (in a perfect world with no poaching) there is plenty of bottom that doesn’t get hunted over there and plenty of fish left to constantly replenish the resource that gets taken from the shallower water. As far as holding hands with the SCUBA divers. Why should I? A good chunk of the water bound rest of the World (S. Africa, Australia, most of the med - Greece, France, Italy, Spain, etc., Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Costa Rica, Bahamas etc, etc, etc,) feels it's wrong and has banned it. Why should I endorse it or associate myself with it in any way if I don't agree with it. And the assertion that if SCUBA spearfishing is banned then all spearfishing will eventually be banned is a fallacy. Most of the Countries I named above have had SCUBA spearfishing banned for a very long time (since at least the 70's for the Bahamas) and I've never heard of any talk from any of those countries about completely banning spearfishing. I don’t mean to start a fight here but this is just the way I feel, be it right or wrong and by me expressing my opinion does, by no means, imply that I feel anybody else’s opinions are ‘wrong’ or ‘stupid’. So, let’s please not turn this into another name calling, disrespectful pissing contest as what usually happens when this subject arises. Differing opinions and respectful debate is what public forums are supposed to be all about, not personal attacks and disrespectful behavior.

Scott
 
donmoore

donmoore

New Member
Aug 19, 2002
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I think some of Rig’s point of view comes from the current effort to change the NOAA ban on spearfishing for tuna. A select group of freedivers would like to make spearfishing for tuna legal for freedivers only while other, including myself, think their should not be a distinction. I believe the reality with pelagic fish is the scuba diver does not have an advantage over the freediver. Trying to exclude scuba divers is no better than what the sport and commercial line fisherman did to us when the NOAA took their suggestions the first time they made the rules.

With bottom reef dwelling fish I can see where scuba divers would have an advantage over both freedivers and pole fisherman, because they can see and go right to the fish, shoot it, and haul it out. Freedivers are limited by the depth and pole fisherman are limited by trying to get their bait to the fish in a position they can pull it away from the structure. Hard to do when you have to place your boat by GPS and depth finder view, while compensating for the current, and with really no idea what the structure actually looks like. Just my opinion.

If you haven’t responded to the NOAA yet, please do so. The future of hunting tuna on the east coast of the U.S is in our hands. Go to http://forums.deeperblue.net/showthread.php?threadid=50757 to get the info. Tonight I am going to their meeting in Port Aransas Texas to give my support.
don
 
rigdvr

rigdvr

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May 28, 2002
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I believe we are at a critical time for fisheries management. Washington is in the process of setting up a new department that would be in charge of the oceans and the advisory comittee has just submitted their findings to the administration.

Let me clarify my stand. I am NOT in favor of MPA's. They have never improved the fisheries surrounding them. Take the keys for example. The waters 15ft outside of a sanctuary are void of fish life. Those fish definately know the boundaries. I am for seasonal protection of reef fish. Known aggregation sites should be protected. This is when the population is at its most danger for depletion.

As far as scuba vs breathhold diving....I would not use tanks in the clear, relatively shallow water of the Keys or the Bahamas. However those that do are not doing any wrong. The recreational bag limits are designed so that each user may take his legal allotment of a species without detriment to the stability of the resource whether that harvest is via hook and line, freediving, scuba, cast net, ect. If this is not the case the bag limits need adjusting.

A little back ground for my personal opinions. I am a fishing charter boat captain. My father is a captain, my grandfather was a captain and so on for 6 generations. I am active in the local charter boat associationn and as such we constantly monitor all proposed fishewry management legislation. In the last 5 yearas some very scary legislation has been passed with out scientific supporting data. A couple of examples
1) red snapper management. RS season is closed for recreational fishermen from Oct 31 to April 21 each year. This is to "allow the stocks time to recover from fishing pressure and to breed undesturbed." Cool, Im all for it. Commercial fishing on the other hand is open the first 10 days of EVERY month. Snapper fisheries are still not recovering and in fact this is one of the worst years I can remember.
2) there is a moritorium on federal charter boat permits. NMFA says this is to alleviate pressure on fish stocks. This legislation was actually proposed by the National Charter Boat Association to limit competition in a huge industry. There was NO science behind the moratorium. I was against this legislation even though the permits that cost me 250$ are now selling for over 15,000$ because no new ones can be issued. A big selling point for the legislation was the depletionn of amberjack attributed to charter boats. Well the rec limit on aj's is one per person so I can legally take no more than 8 on a full boat day. Guess what the commercial limit is on aj...there is no limit. You can keep a million of them. That sure is good science...:head

AS for us standing together, let me use this rational. Spearfishermen are not considered a seperate user group, never have been. We are lumped with harpooning, gigging, and bowfishing to name a few. Anytime one of these methods has been prohibitted for a species, all of them have. Like it or not we must coexist with the scuba divers. In other countries of the world breathold diving is a widely accepted means of harvest but here it is not, never has been. Recreational fishing is a multi billion dollar industry, comercial fishing is a multi billion dollar industry, who do you think has the pull. The advisory panel for regulations reflects this. It is composed of leading recreational anglers and commercial fishermen. There is only ONE spearfisherman on the panel...and he is a scuba diver.

I am not name calling nor did I in my first post. Scott, I already know that a pissing match between you and I would be no fun at all and I really have enjoyed being able to correspond with you in a whole new way as of late. I prefer to freedive but I am trying to be realistic and recognize the nature of the NMFS. They will not distinguish between us and them... look how hard it has been for Hawaii and freediving is second nature there. I can understand your views and appreciate your stand but to think there will be a distinction between breath-hold and scuba is far fetched.
Mike
 
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S

sturgeon

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2002
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Rig,

You made some excellent points and had ample experience/knowledge to back them up. This is the way differing opinions should be handled on a public forum. It was interesting for me to learn about your background and I have absolutely no problem with the way you expressed your views. I too enjoy this type of correspondence as opposed to what we've had in the past. It gives us a chance to get to know one another a little bit rather than just piss each other off and ruin each other's day. I’m really not as you think I am but unfortunately I do have a severe temper. However, fatherhood (my son’s now 2) seems to be calming my flame somewhat (either that or it’s just old age kicking in).

Take care.

Scott
 
rigdvr

rigdvr

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May 28, 2002
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I hope it does the same to me...my first will be born next month!
 
F

fuzz

Hawaiian transplant...
Sep 9, 2002
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Originally posted by rigdvr
They will not distinguish between us and them... look how hard it has been for Hawaii and freediving is second nature there.
Mike

Just curious - what's that about? :confused:
 
rigdvr

rigdvr

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there has been a long standing movement to ban hunting on scuba in the islands. Not sure of the final result but has been quite an event. My point was that freediving is far more common there than here on the mainland and it was still a fiasco trying to get the public at large to recognize the difference.
 
S

sturgeon

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2002
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Don't know about all that but I do know the last time Hawaii hosted the Freedive Spearfishing Nationals the Governor showed up and made a speech. Doesn't sound to me like freedive spearfishing is unrecognized or unaccepted over there. Think next time it's in FL, Jeb will come and be the MC? Maybe in the places I spoke about earlier, freedive spearfishing is so well accepted because SCUBA spearfishing is considered a separate activity and as such has been banned and therefore there is no connection in the public’s eye between the two activities. Food for thought! I know over here I have heard many, many non-spearfisherman say how disgusting and immoral they feel spearing fish on SCUBA is but when I explained to them I do it only while holding my breath, not a single individual has ever said they find any wrongdoing with that activity.

Scott
 
T

tamoshee

me and the deep blue sea
Jan 1, 2004
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I'd still ban scuba!
Sturgeon is right; Spearfishing with scuba is repugnant and in the court of public opinion, spearfishing is tarnished in its entirety.

Scuba = one hour+ aspetto ???
where's the sport/skill/challenge/satisfaction!?
 
F

fishspearit

New Member
May 1, 2004
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I enjoy hunting both ways, freediving and on scuba. There are plenty of challenges to scuba hunting. I usually hunt with a polespear, I wonder how all the speargun hunters would feel if I said
where's the sport/skill/challenge/satisfaction!?
in using a speargun?
It's easier to approach fish coming straight down from above without a loud and visible stream of bubbles coming out of you. Scuba hunters are often dealing with nitrogen narcosis while hunting, concerned with the extra equipment, having to monitor depth and air closely. Lots of distractions that I don't have to concern myself with when freediving. Scuba hunters are often carrying fish on a stringer instead of returning the catch to a boat, you can imagine what distraction that draws.
After about a thousand dives, looking at the pretty colored fish gets kind of boring. A lot of scuba divers still love to dive, but want to add a little more excitement to the sport. I prefer to freedive and hunt, but if I couldn't hunt on scuba, I probably wouldn't scuba dive again.
 
C

cdavis

Well-Known Member
Jan 21, 2003
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Hi rig,

Interesting take on sanctuarys. The fish definately know where the boundry is.

I think you are selling them a little short though. In places like the Flordia Keys, they seem to be working on certain levels. I say that as a long time skeptic, active in fishery management. In the past, sactuaries usually meant "shut off fishing by everybody else but leave me alone." In recent years, sanctuaries have become total no take zones. I thought it would take a series of very large closed areas for this approach to do much good and that leads to another sort "shut out the other guy." However, even very small santuaries are showing a large increase in fish life inside them. Given the intense fishing preasure in the Keys, total area closures may be the only thing that can work. Other areas may need different approaches, but sanctuaries, if approached from a "fair to all users" viewpoint, can really make sense.

We dove a series of sanctuaries from Tortugas to Key Largo a few years ago and saw some fasinating things. In the Tortugas, where rec line fishing is allowed, no comercial, no spear, hog populations were abundant and the fish very large. Grouper were there, but no where near as abundant as I expected. I'm pretty sure this results from rec line fishing, even though its 75 miles offshore. As we went up the keys, we stopped in a series of my old spots, some of which are now "no take" santuaries. Outside these areas, it was grim compared to what I remembered. Inside them were huge swarms of grunts, some snapper, and lots of little grouper 2-5 pounds. I even saw a Nassau. Some of these areas were only a square mile in area. By the time I got to Pennekamp, I was hoping for great things, but saw little to indicate a higher abundance of fish. Did see lots of conch. It is probably no accident that recreational linefishing is allowed there.

The idea that fish won't repopulate areas surrounding the santuaries is worth thinking about, and I haven't seen any research on it, but over time, as the sanctuary "fills up", it seems likely that population excesses will spill over. Also, for many species, it provides a reserve group of spawners. Even for those that migrate elsewhere to spawn, it cuts way down on their exposure to fishing mortality.

Thanks for your comments.

Connor
 
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M

M-2

New Member
Jun 28, 2002
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Good topic guys and one worth talking about. Don't mean to get away from the diving end of it, but rig had some good points about the commercial end of things. I think this is a topic that is much bigger than freediving vs. scuba. We are at a crisis point and it's a message that needs to make it's way to the consciousness of the consumer. If you look at a menu at many of the seafood restaurants and then look at the status of the fish populations, it's people that never set foot in the ocean that have the biggest impact. We need to get the message out there to the public. A couple of sites to look at that I'm sure many of you have seen before:

http://www.shiftingbaselines.org/

http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch.asp

m-2
 
T

tamoshee

me and the deep blue sea
Jan 1, 2004
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It is more than scuba v free and it is all about supply and demand and is all about big fishing. I may appear strident on my views on scuba, I am in agreement that everyone has to pause for careful thought on the future of our seas and oceans.
Last night I saw something deeply saddening: a documentary featuring the australasian Lyre bird. It has remarkable plumage and is also an amazing mimic, it is a bird from the deep forest, mans impact on its natural habitat is bringing mankind and the lyre bird into closer contact. The filmakers had video footage of the bird .....guess what sounds it was making/mimicing..... camera shutter mechanism, camera shutter mechanism with motor wind, car alarm and the thing that I found devastating ... it mimiced the sound of a chainsaw and the crack when a tree falls. For me the Lyre bird is a powerfull metaphor for mans impact on nature.

David
 
M

M-2

New Member
Jun 28, 2002
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interesting story david. the messages are there for us in many forms if we decide to aknowledge them. there was a study released a year or so ago that estimated that populations of large pelagics have been reduced by 90%. right on with what rig mentioned about responsible fishing and taking only what you intend to eat. we have to find ways of adopting sustainable fishing practices and getting the message to the public.

....okay, off my soapbox. sorry to butt in guys.

on another note..... connor, how ya been?! dropped you a pm a while ago. send me an e-mail or pm and let me know how you're doing!
 
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S

sturgeon

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2002
392
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M-2 and David make some good points about responsible fishing and sustainable fishing practices. I hope everybody can agree with this regardless of their particular fishing method. To this, I’d like to clarify my stance on the whole SCUBA spearfishing thing. It's not that I'm vehemently against it and dislike/hate all who participate in it. I have many friends who SCUBA spearfish and they are still my friends. I even take SCUBA spearfishermen out on my boat to freedive spearfish with me. I enjoy the opportunity to introduce them to freediving and hope maybe someday they might totally convert but I don't give them shit when they go SCUBA spearfishing on their own. As far as it being banned, sure I'd be for it but I don't actively lobby for it. I can't imagine personally ever participating in SCUBA spearfishing but as long as it's legal and nobody's raping and pillaging the reef, I don't really care what others do. To each his own.

Scott
 
Pezman

Pezman

We pee deep. Ew!
Sep 24, 2002
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Hey Connor, you wanna see Nassau groupers, just go down to Marco ;)
 
S

sturgeon

Well-Known Member
Feb 1, 2002
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Pez,

If you mean Marco Island, you were seeing red groupers. They are very, very similar to Nassau’s (same genus) except they don’t have the black saddle on their caudle peduncle. As far as I am aware of, Nassau’s don't exist where you were or anywhere in the gulf for that matter except maybe in Monroe county (Keys).

Take care.

Scott
 
frogman

frogman

New Member
Sep 10, 2002
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Small Nassaus look similar to reds. The bigger Nassaus are pretty different with the nice dark and white stripes (your "standard Carribean grouper" in all the diving pics). They love to pose for divers and maybe that's why they are almost extinct in Florida.
Marco island is pretty close to the Keys so he may have seen them there (plus spearfishing is illegal in Collier county)...

Angelos
 
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