|Keith Thompson, Sport Diver, Diss & District branch, Norfolk|
Spearfishing? It depends on what you are going to do with it. If you are doing it just for the hell of it, there is not much point but if you are going to eat the fish then I suppose it isn't so bad.
One for the pot? When we have been diving the East Coast and bring things up, we put them back if the skipper isn't happy with the size. If the lobster shells are soft or egg-bound, I put them back. We got some scallops when we went up to Scotland and if you are going to make good use of them, there is no problem.
|Martin Sampson, National Instructor, Anglesey Diver Training College
Spearfishing? I do not believe that fish stocks these days can sustain any form of fishing. I think in the cruelty stakes, spearfishing probably ranks as not quite as bad as rod and line fishing - I have unhooked fish underwater that have been hideously entangled in line and kelp. Modern gas-powered spearguns are very powerful and with the number of people taking to the water, somebody might get hurt.
One for the pot? The BSAC estimates that two or three million man-dives were made by amateur divers around Britain last year. If everybody took one for the pot, you would probably clean out the stocks in no time at all.
|Lynne Gale, Advanced Diver, Hull BSAC|
Spearfishing? As with most things, as long as it is done properly and people do not go stabbing wildlife for fun, it is OK by me. I would not do it myself because I would be a danger with a sharp instrument and would probably end up pinning myself to something!
One for the pot? I think the way divers gather shellfish is a lot fairer than the way commercial fishermen do it. I have regularly dived and brought home a couple of crabs or scallops, but I have also been served a crab in a restaurant that had been in the process of spawning when it was caught commercially. You only have to look at the bottom of the sea to see how ravaged it is bt commercial fishing.
|Denise Rooney, Sport Diver, BT London BSAC
Spearfishing? Divers are meant to be more aware of the marine environment and have a responsibility to protect it. It seems to be hypocritical to go down and kill fish with a speargun. I also do not like the idea of it from a safety point of view. I would not like to be down in an area where divers are spearfishing.
One for the pot? We never take anything. I think people just bring these crab and lobsters home as trophies.
|Ted Wood, Dive Leader, Ealing 514 branch|
Spearfishing? Due to the shortage of fish stocks, I am very much against it. I do not like the idea of fish being speared, slipping off the spear and being left to die. Conservation is the main thing with me. If you need to fish that way to survive, fine, but how many of us are hungry enough to fish that way?
One for the pot? I used to be the number one perpetrator. I would take home a crab or lobster and as many scallops as I could get in a goody bag, but in the past eight years I have seen how little there is in the way of fish life, and I will not do it for conservation reasons.
|Dave Swain, Dive Leader, Riverside BSAC, Essex
Spearfishing? It is better to spear a fish if you are going to eat it than go to the supermarket, because there is a lot of waste with commercial fishing. If you spear a fish for yourself, I don't see any harm in that but I do not agree with it as a sport or trophy-hunting.
One for the pot? I sometimes take a crab but I do not take lobsters because they take a long time to reach maturity and breed. There is nothing wrong with taking scallops as long as they are the right size and you leave the smaller ones behind.
|Tim Watmuff, Sport Diver, Chesham SAC|
Spearfishing? I disagree with it entirely, as much as anything because of the dangers it poses to divers. I am a warm-water diver and I think in this sort of area you are likely to come across carnivorous fish which could be a danger.
One for the pot? I do not see a problem with it as long as you are not going in every day and stripping an area. I do not see a problem with taking a lobster if it is the right size.
|Jim Henderson, Sport Diver, Holt BSAC, Norfolk
Spearfishing? I have never done it but it is a sport I wouldn't mind taking up. It is a fair sport because your viz is 25 per cent different under water so your mistakes are magnified. How can it be cruel? I can't see it being any different to angling. It is only that you are taking a fish from under the water rather than catching it from the surface.
One for the pot? It is there, so it is fair game - as long as it is not from lobster pots and you are not taking home anything too small.
|Richard Wigley. SAA Dive Supervisor, Nottingham|
Spearfishing? I started as a spearfisherman in Australia in 1969 but now I think it is totally barbaric. I stopped in 1972 because I had had enough of it. People seem to think a fish has no feelings, but a spear goes through it and makes a hole the size of a 10p piece, and you can see it is in pain.
One for the pot? I take enough for a meal and no more and I will not take any for anyone else. People say bring me back a crab and I say no. I am also selective about what I take and will not take anything that is too small.
|Chris Rojek, Advanced Diver, Peterborough BSAC
Spearfishing? Taking anything from the sea is OK as long as it is just one for the plate. It is no more cruel than trawling or commercial fishing nets but I am certainly against the mass hunting of fish that spearfishermen used to do, just to throw them away. I have no problem with it on ethical grounds if divers stick to size limits. It should only be done with a snorkel, and in a safe manner.
One for the pot? I have no problem with divers taking home one or two crabs or lobsters, but stocking freezers, like some do, is not right. It is raping the resources.
|Beverly Sinclair-Miller, Dive Leader, Chesham SAC|
Spearfishing? I think it is unnecessary because it is cruel and we are depriving the sea of various species.
One for the pot? I do not do it because I do not eat shellfish. If it is for personal consumption - and the shellfish is not below size limits - then OK, but I think the creature should be killed. Divers bring them back on board and leave them in a bucket of water, and that is cruel.
|Mark Watson, Sport Diver, Diss & District branch, Norfolk.
Spearfishing? I fish with a rod and line but that is more of a sport. Spearfishing seems like cheating, because you just swim around and pile up fish on the end of a spear. I don't agree with flattie-stabbing either.
One for the pot? I don't mind if people take home one or two lobsters or crabs but I do not agree with people filling bags or packing their freezer and then flogging the stuff. Everything you take should also be above size.
|Ian Fuller, Advanced Instructor, Old Harbour Dive School, Weymouth|
Spearfishing? When I started to dive, it was natural to be given a speargun and encouraged to dive for fish. I think if it is a snorkel diver doing it then it is a reasonable sport but with an aqualung it is unfair. Is it any more cruel than laying nets or angling? Most spearfishermen will also eat their catch. Weymouth and Portland was a very big centre for spearfishing in the 1950s and 60s. Some of the guys were world-class and all of them did it snorkelling.
One for the pot? If you see a reasonable-size crab it is OK to take it home to eat but there is such a concentration of divers in some areas that perhaps we shouldn't take anything. Everything must be above minimum size and nothing should be taken from pots. I have a problem with taking breeding females of any species, so I do not take egg-bound lobsters or crabs. Divers who take loads to fill freezers are being greedy.
|Kevan Cook, Advanced Instructor, Dorchester
Spearfishing? Spearfishing has always been used by subsistence fishermen as a way of earning a living but it is the growing image of spearfishing as a sport that I find so distasteful. I am definitely against it when using an aqualung because it just does not give the fish a chance. At the moment it is a minority sport but what worries me is that more shops are supplying the equipment.
One for the pot? People have been taking lobsters for centuries with pots. If you just take one now and again, there is no problem but if you start to take two, three or four to sell to friends, that unacceptable. I take the odd scallop but I do not take lobsters or crabs.
|Ray Harms, Portland, winner of national spearfishing championships (1974/5) |
Spearfishing? It is a dying sport but I shoot to eat, free-diving off Portland Bill for bass and cod. It is cruel but I am a pretty good shot and virtually kill them instantly. If they do struggle, I break their spine. Free-diving takes a lot of skill and a terrific amount of dedication. It takes a lot of mental preparation to be able to free-dive to 30m because your brain is telling you to go up. I used to spearfish for sport, but not now. I stopped competing because I achieved everything in the sport, although it still goes on. It is a slaughter when they bring wrasse into it and I do not agree with that. In the 1970s you would be competing with about 400 divers and they would each shoot about 100 wrasse. That is not acceptable now. At spearfishing competitions today, you are lucky if you get 40 competitors.
Spearfishing with an aqualung? No way! The skill of spearfishing comes when you have to freedive to 30m with no weight. I dive down to about 20-25m when the tide is running hard, hide behind a rock and blow bubbles to attract bass.
One for the pot? I take scallops, crabs and lobsters, but only for my own eating.