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Spearfishing: Good or Bad?

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

i'd really like to see this thread continue. i do see how the ethics topic has been flogged to death, but how about we get back into preservation/conservation or degradation/dessimation topics. i think focusing more on what we can do or already do to make freedive spearfishing politically, socially, and morally ok would better suit the intellect and purpose of this forum.

~ anderson
You asked for it !

Ok guys,

You want some theory?

Conservation-control :
To protect a species in a certain area you want to have healthy populations of that species. The easy way to obtain this is to fence in a large enough area in which this species (and its fellow species) can find good habitats (places to live) with reliable food resources. Minimize human impact, then let the animals manage themselves. (I guess it doesn't need further explanation that in the sea it's a lot more difficult to minimize human impact on an area.)
But this is 'not done' for the common animal lovers for they will see dying and starving animals walking around the place when populations get too big and food resources are depleted (e.g. in winter). Which is in fact entirely natural, for population numbers fluctuate (around a level where the carrying capacity of the area is exceeded). If a population gets too big, the carrying capacity of their environment will be exceeded and population numbers drop. After a while (when the area has recovered) the population starts to grow again. The speed of this growth and recovery depends greatly on the reproductive rate of the animals. In theory you have two types: R-strateges = fast reproducing animals, like rabbits, and K-strateges= slow reproducing animals e.g. elephants or whales. A population of K-strateges wil take a very long time to recover, and in nature, numbers tend to fluctuate less. (This is the main reason for being opposed to whale hunting!) A population of R-strateges wil recover in a nick of time when you have taken some individuals (not too many, of course). So there's no problem in shooting a few rabbits (or fast reproducing fish) for dinner.
Sometimes, to prevent booming numbers of R-strateges, the population has to be controlled: by hunting !

By the way, I'm not vegetarian (there's a scientific explanation for that as well but I guess you've had enough theory for now.) ;)


Personally i do not believe there is a way back. What happened when cod and haddock fishing was no longer attractive?? They starting fishing pollack a less appetising fish but none the less once prepared and deep fried is acceptable. My point is that once the pollack are gone a fish further down the chain will become economically viable and so on until it is physically game over.

The solution. A total ban on commercial fishing. Viability 0. Politically and economically unacceptable for any nation, due to loss of earnings, increased burden on the welfare state and increased costs in policing fisheries.

A possible alternative. Although quotas etc are in operation they need to be properly policed and fines steep enough to be discouraging. Current fines are usually less than the income recieved from one decent catch of undersize fish. Your boat may be confiscated, but then you're allowed to sell it, so just buy a new one - fantastic solution. And if you do impose huge fines and confiscate vessels permanatly then what? The state has to support the individuals who no longer have a living and are unable to seek employment in other industries. How do you finance the increased cost of proper policing? A cut in the health service budget - I don't think anyone will condone that.

Personally I'd like to see all drugs legalised - not that I use any - tax them similar to alchol and cigarettes - increasing treasury funds and reallocate Navy patrols who can then police fishery violations. Ever going to happen? No, because who really cares about a bunch of stupid fisheys??:p

Keep fishing whilst there's still fish in the sea.

>The only thing that disturbs..................
>you hunters never dare to say ................
>I love the thrill of killing another being."
>If I'm complety wrong here please tell me.


You're completely wrong. Killing is a very small part of the hunt. Hunting with a camera or my favorite, a 'tag-gun', easily matches the food on the table experience. I hunt many different ways and the quality of the hunt is almost inversely proportional to success.

It's not the killing

but catching. Why children play hide and seek and grownups go paintballing? I'd quess it's not to simulate finding and KILLING your pray but the thrill of CATCHING something. Of course there are individuals that like killing too (they are a minority even among murderers), but I wouldn't say that a murderous mind is a norm among hunters. Just the quite low number of fatal hunting accidents seems to support that.
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I have no shame in admitting that I get a thrill when shooting fish. I work hard to get those few shots. The fish where I hunt are very akamai (smart), they do not stick around for long. To be honest, I do not know what drives me to spearfish more, the actual hunt ( and yes I'm looking and waiting for the elusive 100lb ulua like every other diver here) or bringing home fish for dinner. Everyone is getting way to da kine, uh, high maka maka about this subject. lol. Culturally speaking, spearfishing is a way of life where I live. So long you are responsible, and follow the regulations whats the big deal? And to the guy who talked about fish having feelings... maybe, maybe not... definitly not feeling good hanging on my kui after having a knife stuck in their brain and a metal rod inserted through their gills and out their mouth. But hey, death and life go hand in hand. Do I have the right to kill fish? maybe, maybe not. Does the tiger shark have the right to kill me? Maybe, maybe not. Whos to say. Aloha ka ko!
spearfishing: good or bad

I totally agree w/ you, Hawaiianstyle. As I stated to several people before it's not totally about the kill although that's part of it. And as long as we stay within the regulations what's the difference. From what I've seen and read you have a beautiful state, (hopefully I'll make it out there someday), continue to enjoy it, and save one of those 100# ulua for me.
Spearfishing on SCUBA


I am relatively new to the sport or spearfishing. ( I have been gigying for a few years.)
But I would like to give my 2 cents worth in the topic of spearfishing with scuba. I have had my Padi Open Water Certificate for a few months now and have been reading about spearfishing with scuba. I feel that spearfishing with scuba takes the fighting chance away from the fish and also takes twice the fun away ;)

I know about different folks and different strokes and am sorry if I have offended anyone in saying this. I just felt that this was an open topic and I felt i should spread my view.


Sean Mathersul

Working solutions for enforcing the ethical rules...

That's really a great topic and it's too bad I saw it that late!
It has torturing my mind for some time already please bear with me if my posts are too long or I unintentionally repeat things that were already discussed.

IMHO there will always be an argument, but the main issue is to actually try and find a way to turn the ethical rules into a working model…

The two basic Ethical Rules with a drop of sentiment

I am a spearfisher and I can't really remember my first fish. The reason is that I was too young then. I do remember however that particular one time when my dad was showing me how to stalk the bigger mullets. Believe it or not, he was carrying me on his back to the spot, cause I was too little to reach it myself. This is the happiest memory I have...

There are probably very few things that I can remember from the lessons my dad gave me. He was never really a top spearo in terms of skills, he was one of the pioneer spearos in the country back in the 60s and back then they were still developing the techniques that now every amateur knows how to practice. I will always remember though the few things he told me about the ethics of the sport. And I think that makes him one of the greatest spearos in the world.

The first thing I have learned from my dad is what has now turned into a motto of the sustainable spearfishing – don’t take more than you need for food. However, this sentence has lost its meaning for all the local spearos. Unfortunately the Black Sea is one of the most deserted one in the world. It is a closed sea with the three biggest rivers in Europe belching their enormous quantities of polluted waters into it. And what’s more, it’s one of the most commercially overfished seas in the World too. For this very reason we can very rarely come out of the water with more than what we need for dinner. From all the fish in the sea, the local spearos can now rely on several species that are not usually a target for the commercial fishing – 2 types of mullets, the bluefish and occasionally a Black Sea bass or a brown meagre.

He also told me that you could squeeze the most of the experience if you don't actually think of it as a hunt. Just being there among the creatures of the deep is the ultimate experience and not the unnatural wiggling of the speared fish. During the years I have learned how to perceive and enjoy the whole picture and not just the pray in it. And if I see a fish that doesn't fit in that beautiful picture, that is most probably the fish that makes the mistake to act in a way turning it into the most probable target. That is when I take the shot. I have discussed this with my buddies (which are also my competitors during sport events) and some of them agreed they usually hunt the same way. We came to a conclusion that it's probably the very same process when the predator picks its mark, and it may sound funny to the inexperienced, but this way we are probably even contributing for the evolution the same way the predators do.
It is not just words when we say that “the fish knows what a speargun is!” when we miss a shot or lose a fish in any other way. Spearfishing is becoming more and more difficult with the time, because the fish really knows already that this weird clumsy creature in the fowl tasting suit is a predator. Now to get a good fish you really have to know how to stalk, ambush or find “the stone” around which the fish route passes.

The second lesson he gave me was to disapprove the scuba hunters. Now this rule may have a different sense for the hunters in other parts of the world. But for the local spearos it is a taboo! The reasons for that are quite simple: you can only hunt on very few species with a scuba gear in the Black Sea – the other ones will never come close enough for a shot if you’re as noisy as a scuba diver is. So they hunt on two types of species: the ones attached to a certain territory, like the brown meagre “living” in a certain cave for its whole life at depths of over 20 meters and the other type are the species that usually become easy target during the spawning season. Such fish is the Black Sea turbot at the end of April when you don’t even need a speargun to catch it - you can use a simple fork. The scuba divers hunt on those species strictly for commercial purposes. And this way they are violating three legal provisions from our new Fishing and Aquacultures Act at the same time – the ban on fishing turbots during the spawning season, the ban to spearfish with a scuba gear and the ban on spearfishing for commercial purposes. I cannot approve that as a lawyer and as a spearfisher. And those “bubble blowers” are giving the bad name to the spearfishing sport, because the general public calls “a spearo” the person with a speargun, with or without the scuba gear. This actually brings out to the surface another issue:
The legislative measures

The happy romantic times for the spearos are unfortunately long gone. Not that they were ever really here. Very few of us know that the first speargun was patented back in 1933 by a Frenchman called Ives Le Prieur (wrong spelling I am sure, but it sounds that way). You can see a picture of him and his gun here . The speargun was powered by gunpowder and was immediately banned after the fast reaction of the French Professional Fishermen Union. So from its very birth the spearfishing became a legal issue.

I am not sure about the legislations on the other continents, but those in Europe have evolved a lot. The national legislations of almost all European countries are now containing special provisions about the spearfishing and those are very close due to the requirements of the European Union. There are several formulas available:
1. You have to be member of a certain organization and to pay annual fee.
2. You don’t have to be member of anything, but you need to pay for your fishing ticket
3. You don’t have to be a member of anything and the spearfishing is free as long as it’s not for commercial purposes.

I am lucky enough to live in a country that has adopted the third formula. It relies on other provisions like general fishing bans, bag and size limits, etc. But in order for such formula to be efficient, you must be sure of two things: that your spearfishing community has already developed an environmentally conscious way of thinking, and that you have the proper working mechanism for efficiently monitoring the activity. In my country, the 2nd prerequisite is missing, which makes the 3rd formula as inefficient as the first two.

However, even though the national legislations still don’t cover the issue exhaustively, there are other regulations enforced by the organizations responsible for such activities – Sports federations, clubs, teams, etc. Which leads us to the issue about:
The organized spearfishing

At the moment the organization regulating the sport of spearfishing on a global level is the CMAS (World Confederation for Underwater Activities). It is part of the UNESCO, so no other organization can actually claim to have the same functions. CMAS and its Spearfishing commission are responsible to regulate (and also organize) all international spearfishing events like the World Spearfishing Championship, etc. The CMAS has been constantly under the crossfire coming from environmental groups, governments, activists and even internal lobbies. The Confederation managed to hold the positions of spearfishing with uncertain success for many years.
However, the organization is presently losing its significance for the spearos very fast with the other diving sports becoming a huge industry, with new generations of scuba and freedivers entering the executive bodies of the organization, and the pure ambition for certain sports (like the swimming with fins) to be acknowledged by the World Olympic Committee as Olympic disciplines.
The significance of the spearfishing within the CMAS has now been diminished to microscopic proportions. Even though, the spearfishing commission is still trying to do some good for the sport. With the latest version of the CMAS Spearfishing Rules for international competitions (unfortunately I have only a hard copy of the French version of the document so I can’t post a link to it) introduces completely new formulas, making the sport even more difficult: reduction of the use of the boats during competitions, higher minimum size of valid catch, etc.
It has been a part for the old international competitions rules , applied also by the federations, members of CMAS , that the total catch from a competition should be:
1. Examined by an ichthyologist, in order for more knowledge to be gathered about the marine life in the competition area. He may take all species he finds of interest to the science.
2. After the scientific examination, all the catch must be donated (not sold to support the organizer as I think I saw in some post) for charity to an orphanage, hospital, nursing home, etc.
I think these are perfect solutions, justifying the competitive spearfishing, but to my huge surprise and disappointment, the Bulgarian Spearfishing Federation found it impossible to meet the first requirement because the National Academy of Science and the Marine Biology Institute didn’t show any interest in examining the catch.

Unfortunately the CMAS has always been torn apart by the arguments between the scuba divers’ lobby and the one of the spearos/apneists. With the rapid development of the apnea diving during the last decade the freedivers’ lobby has been split in two, since the competitive freedivers are building to some extent their popularity and public support by bashing the spearfishing community. This is unfortunately a fact.
Which leads to the logical answer why the spearfishing does not have the international support and defence it used to enjoy. It’s business as usual.

For similar reasons the local federations are also struggling. In Bulgaria we are lucky that we have always hade separate scuba/freediving federations. But in other parts of Europe it hasn’t been like that and now the separation is inevitable and very painful process. The latest example is the French FFESSM, which has been abandoned by the whole spearfishing commission because of the triangular conflict between spearos, scuba divers and apneists. A new National Federation for Spearfishing in Apnea ( FNPSA ) has been found and it became a part of the French fishing association. IMHO, there is no point for running from one enemy to another, since we all know what the anglers think about the spearfishing, but I guess they have decided that the smaller evil is better.
The situation in Italy is pretty much the same, where the spearos tired of the fights in FIPSAS formed a new association – AIPS . The Spanish FEDAS is still holding the positions, but I think that is mainly because of they still don’t have any major victories in freediving, unlike the spearfishing.

The local federations also have obligatory rules, but there are hardly any working mechanisms available for controlling their application. Per example in Italy and France the grouper is not accepted as valid catch for the competitions. In France the ban covers also the recreational spearfishing. This fish was the symbol of the spearfishing in the Mediterranean. There are general catch limits, per species limits, per family limits, minimum and maximum weight limits and all other limits you can think of!
The competitions were made harder – now the athletes do not have a boat to move and even go to the desired spot. This formula was supposed to be tested during the WC in Brazil, but I guess the organizers found it cheaper to provide a boat for everyone than to equip all the spearos with a dive board!
Almost all federations now have adopted spearfishing ethical codes or have issued a White book of spearfishing, which is practically the same.

And with all those measures taken, there is still no real working solution.
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Can someone tell me what is Karma and how do you get more of it.


P.S How do you put a picture under your username on the left.
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Is there any solution?

After thinking over this issue for two years already (ever since I became a bit acquainted with the problems) I am more and more convinced that the right solution may reside in a combination between old school and new ways of regulating the spearfishing.

1. Real separation of the spearfishing from the apnea bodies of CMAS or even transition to another Confederation devoted entirely to spearfishing
2. Centralized regulation by a single National spearfishing organization (call it Federation, Association, Agency or Whatever) – NSO
3. Adoption of Ethical Codes and General Rules
4. Compulsory membership in the NSO
5. Entry test procedure for all new members proving their knowledge about the ethical rules, the different species, the banned species, the differences between the juvenile species, environmental issues, etc.
6. Declaration for acceptance of the Ethical Code and the General Rules
7. Breach of any of the provisions of the Ethical Code and the General Rules should lead to real Sanctions – including the depravation of a person from the right for spearfishing for a certain period or even forever for the most serious violations.
8. Relatively high annual membership fees for the Clubs in order to create a real budget – for supporting the NSO, the Club, the sport, educational and environmental activities (including introduction of juvenile fish into certain areas through contracts with the fisheries) on both local and national levels
9. Mandatory involvement of the members in the environmental activities (cleaning of beaches, reefs, etc.)…
10. Establishment of working model of cooperation with the local and national scientific institutes since the spearos can really be the eyes of the scientists. This can be done in several ways:
- Personal diary – a mandatory diary, which will reflect several issues: date and time of the hunt, hunting area, species taken, species seen, notes, etc. The diary must be submitted at the end of the year to the respective club in order for the data to be processed in the Club and provided to the NSO for the creation of an Annual report. The findings of the Annual report should be made public through the specialised media and provided to the scientific organizations.
- Invitation of scientists for examination of the catch during competitions.
- Ban or restrictions over the hunt of certain species, based on the findings in the Annual report, which are considered threatened by the scientists even though they are not included in the so called Red lists, due to the slow bureaucratic ways of doing it.

11. Complete media coverage of all events. Unfortunately the spearfishing will never be that popular among the media since it can’t be shown live on the TV, but from my personal experience I can tell that the local media is always interested in publishing the results from the local events, especially if presented in a more interesting format.

But at the end, I still can’t come up with an effective control mechanism. It is obvious that the NSO cannot support its own control organs, since it requires a huge budget. Cooperation may be established with the local and national fishing control bodies, but it won’t be very effective, since the spearfishing is usually carried out too close to the shore for the control organs to be able to approach the diver.

That brings us back to the very beginning – the education of the young spearos.
I cannot agree more with Andersn! The main moral obligation for the wiz spearos is not to strut and prove their skills more an more, but to transfer their knowledge and the environmentally mature way of thinking they have developed the hard way to the young and the amateurs.

Gee, I knew it’s going to be a long one, but at least I hope it’s worth reading… By the way this is based on my personal opinions about the issues and the information I have about the facts. Please correct me if I am wrong about anything…

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what is Karma


I am a commercial spearfisherman.

I can't understand difficult sentence cause of my English skill(and i write difficult sentence to analyze.so sorry.)
i think the problem sometime.
so i try to write.

I love the sea.I like sailing,free diving,surfing.kayaking,also spearfishing for pleasure too.I learnd nature science at University.(grade...so bad.sorry my mother&father)

I think spearfishing is not ecological.and not only spearfishing but also all of human action for pleasure is not ecological.

but i want to think about it well.

till i get this job,i didn't believe that we killing any life.yes i knew that in theory in my head.but i didn't feel that in reality.when i killed first fish,it was realized.before i started this job,my friend who is a commercial hunter of wild boar gave me a block of wild boar meat,but,for me,it wasn't meat.it was a dead body of wild boar.it was shocking experience.

in civilizated society,level of occupation which making food is lower than engineer,office worker,teacher etc.etc. but making food is most important job at all human being,i think.but we don't want to see such cluel human action.because we think we are civilizated.so occupation like fisherman,hunter,farmer are not favorite with almost people.

they say,"fisherman kills fish!".yes we kill fish.we kill fish to let other people eat fish.people buy our fish and eat.and if it isn't yummy,or they aren't hungry,they dump fishes.

i beleave spearfisherman in here,don't do that.because we know the fish was killed by us to eat(and little pleasure).not to dump.

we are living by killing other lives on earth.vegetarian killing plant too.this is called Karma (Mr.Spearoboy:D)in Buddhism (and hindooism,too?Mr.Iyadiver:)).spearfisherman,hunter,farmer know that very well.because they soil their hands with blood in real.

spearfishing is not ecological.because we kill fish.we injure the nature.but it tells us what is Karma.and spearfishing can realize that we are sinful existence.spearfisherman kills fish.but spearfisherman loves fish very much.i know spearfisherman loves fish,sea and nature deeper than nospearfisherman.so we are sensitive to change of nature enviroment.

spearfishing is good or bad?

i am thinking that problem sometime.because my occupation.

but icant answer.perhaps there is no answer.

but i think keep thinking is very important.

good spearfisherman think about it.

sorry for my ugly English.
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good or evil

The recriational outdoor lover is the front line in the battle against commercial interest's profit hungry rape of what belogns to us all. The fact that we as humas must consume flesh to survive has become obscured in our high tech enviroment but no less real than ever. Somehow people are coming to belive that concret jungle produces its own food on the grocery store shelf neatly wrapped in plastic for thier convinience. This notion contains just as much fact as the idea that the oceans are limitless and should be exploited for maximun gains for a few. The spearfishermen works hard for every single fish he takes home and his passion for the sport benifits his local community in a way that no factory boat can. He pays someone for his boat his gear his gas, repairs to his equipment, ice, water, etc. All that money goes rigth back into the local economy, I that good or bad? On average the amount of fish is insignificant taken by other indiscriminat practices. If concientious about his practices the spearfisherman is the eyes and ears of the ocean he so loves. Its rithyms are his heart beat. No one feels such a connection to the ocean that gives life to us all. For every pound of wild caught shrimp brought to market six pounds of "dead sea life" is shoveled overboad. This makes me sick that is six pounds of small fish and crabs that no longer form a part of the ocosystem that supports the reef. Thats not to metion all the damedge that is caused to invertebrates and grasses along the bottom were they drag their nets. Unfortunatley it is the same intrests that have the laudests voice in the legislative bodies around the world so often it takes the implossion of an entire industry before action is taken and when it does occur often the minority spearfishermen bear the brunt of the public culpability for the desemation of the entire ecosystem. The situation feel overwellming sometimes but there are rays of hope in my opinion. Aquaculture isn't perfect but it can certainly do more to feed the masses of people better than netting the few remaining fish in the ocean. "As high-tech methods of harvest are brought to bear on the ocean picking it clean is a real possibility. We are not drawn to the ocean as killers rather as humble participants in an ancient dance of life and death that drives our planet. In america it hunter who have taken the inciative to preserve the habitats of the animals the persue. I feel we should take this as an example to follow whenever possible. In addition to everything I mentioned breathhold diving has tremendous physical and mental benifits as well. It is also a form of clean fun in a world full of wrong choices. It can be an great gift to share with friends and family .
Sorry if i got off topic its just that the thread is very relevant and I like were you guys are going with this
keep up the good work
i believe that spearfishing is good, if practiced within a certain moral standard and if sthere is a program to regulate spearfishing it would be even better, as in like for example, spearfishing licenses should be needed, at least for one spearfisher in a group, and that the funds generated by such go in to the protectiona dn reaserch of a species......anyways thats just my two cents...

I freedive and scuba. I live in S. Fla. I scuba around home for relaxation and enjoyment, wrecks a plenty. I freedive in the Bahamas and spearfish there. I like the fact that no triggered guns are allowed. It requires one to do a little more home work, you got to know the speacies to get close enough to get a shot. with triggerless guns ones physical capabilities come more into play. It is truly a hunting experiance. Basic instincts come to life. I was talking to a guy the other day who uses a pnematic gun. I asked the range , he said he has hit fish up to 50ft away just shoot into the school and got a grouper. That just dosn't seem the same to me. I can understand the blue water experiance with a powerfull weapon, but around the reefs? Everybody to thier own ways I guess. There has been a lot of talk about making some areas in S. Fla no fish zones ( hook net or spear) I like the idea the fish need some sanctuary someplace. With population of divers and fishermen in this area the fish are way over pressured.
When you see the abundance of life on the Bahamian reefs and the viod that is the reefs in many parts of S. Fl you may get a better perspective on how it could be.
i agree

I agree an think spearing should be limited to freediving and power heads should also not be allowed for spearing fish, no matter what the commercial guys say. Most commercial guys just want all the fish for them and none for anyone else they are hte ones that pick the reef clean not the weekend warriors that just want dinner. I feel what you are saying about our local reefs as compared to the bahamas. The dude that told you he shot a grouper from 50 feet away wasn't telling the truth, even the six band alexander tuna gun aint worth much at more than 30 feet. Id question anything that guy tells you. pneumatic guns aren't some kind of cannon, band guns are were its at.
Spearing Ecological?
Spearing properly done takes out selected specimens of the selected species above minimum and below maximum lengths where these apply and does very little or no damage to the marine environment compared with netting which has a bicatch or icidental kill rate often exceeding target species which is then dumped back into the water dead or sold for very low value and also rakes the bottom clean of weeds and grasses etc in breeding habittas, or line fishing which has some amount of undersize or protected species caught and released or killed due to the lack of being able to know what will bite your hook.
Therefore by comparison spearing is a very eco friendly method of fishing .
Regards Peter
i think good or bad spearfishing is the attitude u take into the water with you.Ima newbie and first time in the water shot a couple of average size red moki (just for sum eating) as i came up the experianced dudes i was with just shook theyre heads cos they knew i had gone into the water determined too shoot at anything that showed its flank, and they were right, i hadn't gone into the water to hunt down a particularly tricky or large fish. spearing i reckon is more about the hunt than the kill (although it is nice to have something to eat when u comne up.
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