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Is Spearfishing a Sport?

Is spearfishing a sport or underwater hunting?

  • Spearfishing is a sport!

    Votes: 17 25.8%
  • Spearfishing is underwater hunting!

    Votes: 49 74.2%

  • Total voters
    66

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
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San Clemente, CA
It amazes me that no one has resorted to the dictionary. Here are some definitions of sport:

Definition of sport for English Language Learners. : a contest or game in which people do certain physical activities according to a specific set of rules and compete against each other. : sports in general. : a physical activity (such as hunting, fishing, running, swimming, etc.) that is done for enjoyment.

an athletic activity requiring skill or physical prowess and often of acompetitive nature, as racing, baseball, tennis, golf, bowling,wrestling, boxing, hunting, fishing, etc.

So it would seem to me that spearfishing fits in most definitions of sport. In my case I don't compete and I generally disapprove of competitions that result in killing more fish or different fish than I would otherwise have taken, but many people compete with a specific set of rules against each other, so by that definition spearfishing is a sport. For me, its a physical activity requiring skill and is done for enjoyment, so its still a sport.

It seems to me that the point of this thread is whether or not you approve of the sport. For instance, I don't think that many people would disagree with American football being called a sport. I think its a sport, but in light of all the data showing that it results in brain damage, dementia, and suicide, I don't approve of it. And so many young mean suffer debilitating injuries to knees, hips, backs, etc. that they cannot engage in physical activity and maintain fitness as adults. I played football, but I didn't know any better. If I had a young son now, I wouldn't let him play football. I think its a shame that we support an activity that puts the health of young men at risk. But its still a sport, whether or not I choose to watch it on TV. Millions of people do watch it.

If you don't approve of spearfishing, then a case can be made for your position. But its still a sport by most commonly accepted definitions of the word.
 
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GrandeBleu

Member
Apr 29, 2017
15
3
8
40
UK
I would say it is not considered a sport where I am... but there are surely spearfishing competitions in other countries. If you are competing in a larger group then I guess that is a sport of sorts. The fact some places ban spearfishing at night implies it is considered a sport because night hunting is said to be "unsporting".

As usual the little guy gets all the restrictions and accusations while the larger fishing industry gets away with inhumane and wasteful practices night and day.
 
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Mr. X

Forum Mentor
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Jul 14, 2005
7,298
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Sunny Britain
An interesting court case made the news over here (United Kingdom) recently: a judge ruled that the card game Bridge is not a sport for tax purposes (unlike, say, the pub game Darts or Archery). I gather his main reason was that sports require more than a negligible amount of physical exertion! Or, I would suggest - based on Darts/Archery - more than a neglible amount of physical skill.
 
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Pinniped72

Well-Known Member
May 18, 2013
391
207
83
Hampshire
Like most things its all relative, if your living a self sustaining lifestyle on a remote island with fish as the only protein source I would say that its underwater hunting, if on the other hand your after the biggest individuals to break records, then I would say its a sport. I don't think that spearfishing itself is a sport, it depends on the intention and situation of the spearo. A bit like most would say that angling is a sport but not many would say that trawling is, at the end of the day its all catching fish but everyone has their own reasons for doing it. :)
 
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SubSub

Well-Known Member
Aug 26, 2015
487
183
58
42
Stockholm
Like most things its all relative, if your living a self sustaining lifestyle on a remote island with fish as the only protein source I would say that its underwater hunting, if on the other hand your after the biggest individuals to break records, then I would say its a sport. I don't think that spearfishing itself is a sport, it depends on the intention and situation of the spearo. A bit like most would say that angling is a sport but not many would say that trawling is, at the end of the day its all catching fish but everyone has their own reasons for doing it. :)
Yup, like running to the bus is no sport, nor is riding you bike to work. But put into context, yes freediving and spearfishing is definitely a sport.
 
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Camospearo

Member
Dec 4, 2017
24
18
18
46
Port Douglas
Over the last few months I have discovered that many spearfishing threads, posts & members (particularly newbies) appear to assume that spearfishing is indeed unquestionably a sport. I'm under the impression that sport necessitates equal competitive elements & only between people. Regardless of human controlled conditions like competitions this is arguably not the case with spearfishing... ocean life has no access to technology! The Hunting is/not a Sport debate is a controversial & exhaustive one but currently spearfishing in particular appears to stand somewhat alone within these debates? The poll is deliberately reduced to only 2 choices, there is no grey area here, a conclusive decision should be made - it's either a sport or underwater hunting?
Perhaps Spearo's on this forum are well placed/should decide for ourselves how we regard, describe or define spearfishing as an attempt to dispel any condemnations & accusations of hypocrisy.


Perhaps the real debate is 'how' we hunt?
I have no problem classifying spearfishing as a sport it requires physical fitness, is challenging and has organised competitions, although having said that spearing a fish that wins a comp but doesn't make the table is wrong. I have never and will never spear something that won't be eaten
 

billder99

Doyle
Dec 23, 2006
79
14
98
62
Loreto, Baja Sur, Mexico
Spearfishing is a GREAT sport, but also more than a sport. Being good requires dedication, practice, patience, and physical fitness. Most spearo's are ethical in that they take only what they and their family will eat, and we leave the big ones (the breeders) alone to propagate the species. Eating fish is good for you!
 
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Mr. X

Forum Mentor
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Jul 14, 2005
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Sunny Britain
Not sure how many spearos leave the big ones. As with most angling and fishing, taking smaller fish tends be frowned on more than taking larger ones. In the UK/EU, we have only Minimum Landing Size restrictions - no maximums. We do, however, have seasonal restrictions around specified estuaries which as designated "bass nurseries". Details: https://www.cefas.co.uk/publications/techrep/Bass.pdf
Spearfishing ...requires dedication, practice, patience, and physical fitness. ...
Yes, and experience and luck help, cunning (sometimes), calm weather and calm seas, usually for a few days before hand as well as on the day - at least it does here, otherwise there tends to be little or no visibility :(
 

billder99

Doyle
Dec 23, 2006
79
14
98
62
Loreto, Baja Sur, Mexico
I’m agraid that the Spearos I know don’t leave the big ones.
Well, perhaps I am just a wishful thinker... I can tell you with certainty that where I live all the spearos I know are aware of the need to protect species and populations... witholding some shots is in our best interest... does everyone do that? not likely. Keep on divin' Bill M. and Mr. X
 

Bill McIntyre

San Clemente, CA
Staff member
Forum Mentor
Jan 27, 2005
3,216
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San Clemente, CA
Well, perhaps I am just a wishful thinker... I can tell you with certainty that where I live all the spearos I know are aware of the need to protect species and populations... witholding some shots is in our best interest... does everyone do that? not likely. Keep on divin' Bill M. and Mr. X
A lot of people I dive with, including me, withhold a lot of shots. But we are generally passing up shots on smaller fish and waiting for a big one.

The most sought after fish in Southern California is the white sea bass, and the limit is one fish per day from March 15 through June 15. A lot of us might pass up 30 pounders in hopes of seeing a 50 or 60 pounder.

The rest of the year the limit is 3 fish. I might shoot a 30 pounder and then go back in the water and pass up any more 30 pounders, but hope for a chance at a really big one.

And at any time of year, I'm not even shooting at the calico bass or sheephead that newer spearos might be trying to take. I'm afraid I go many trips without even taking a shot.
 
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Mr. X

Forum Mentor
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Forum Mentor
Jul 14, 2005
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Sunny Britain
billder99, you misunderstand. I often withhold shots, usually in order not to take undersize fish or certain species. There is no legal concept of maximum size here in the UK; the powers that be have decreed that protecting smaller fish is the way to conserve fish stocks. If you search the dark depths of the forum, you will find that I questioned this policy myself several years ago. People get very sanctimonious about not taking small fish and then take large, breeding, fish full of eggs without a second thought :(

Don't worry though, I rarely get the opportunity to take large fish :D

billder99, do you have any minimum (or maximum) size or weight restrictions (either your own, your club/association if you have one, or the countries you spear from)? Ours fisheries are quite regulated. Scientists and commericial fishers have quite a lot of influence, not "recreational fishers" so much, despite the large number that vote.

 

billder99

Doyle
Dec 23, 2006
79
14
98
62
Loreto, Baja Sur, Mexico
Mr.X: Hah, funny song in this context... Steely Dan is unique. I live way down in Baja Sur, MX... we have catch limits, but no size limits (either small or large) but among spearfishermen (no women I know of) there is a high level of awareness that the Big Ones are the Breeders... I try to target fish in the 15#-25# range, which is medium size & relatively young... during the spawn season (Mar-Apr) many of us dive without spearguns. The Sea of Cortez is a rare jewell to be protected for future generations.
 
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