Is Spearfishing Legal or Illegal? [Here is the Answer!]

Is Spearfishing Legal

Although categorized like fishing, spearfishing has many similarities with hunting. Use of a speargun and ambushing your prey is very adventurous.

However, strict rules and regulations apply to it, and as a spearo, you should always check local legal requirements.

Is spearfishing legal or is spearfishing illegal can often confuse people. In some places around the world, it is strictly illegal, while in other places you can spearfish almost anywhere, even with scuba gear. However, for any kind of it, you need a license, and sometimes even to register your speargun.

Spearfishing gives you a lot of advantage over the fish, and a very fit and experienced spearo can basically catch everything that comes near.

That is why strict regulations exist, in order to preserve fish population and prevent their numbers from going down due to extensive hunting.

Here I will tell you more about law regulations considering spearfishing, and list some of the most popular locations and their local rules.



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Is Spearfishing Legal or Illegal?

I briefly answered is spearfishing legal or is spearfishing illegal, but here are a few more details. Spearfishing, same as any other form of fishing or hunting, is regulated by the authorities of a given country or a state.

It is impossible to giv a definite answer without asking where you plan to spearfish. But don’t worry, there is a list in the following chapters.

The only way to find out legal status of spearfishing is to check with the local authorities. You can find that info online, you can call their numbers, or even ask in local fishing clubs or stores that sell licenses. Always check official up to date info, because rules may change. This article is just a guidance and use it as such. To know what and where to look. If you are reading this article 5 years after it was written, check before you take your speargun and head to the nearest beach.

Why and When is Spearfishing Illegal?

To know why is spearfishing illegal, you have to understand how it differs from angling. When presenting a fishing hook, fish may or may not come close and bite. If you present it in the right place, you will catch it, if not, you will go home empty handed. Ok, it is not that simple, but hear me out.

When diving under water, you are entering the fish world. You can see them, follow them, and hit them with a speargun. This gives you a huge advantage over the fish, and this activity has to be regulated. Unlike anglers, spearos can’t practice catch and release, and their catch always dies. Spearfishing also allows you to target the best specimens, whose premium gene pool slowly disappears because of it.

And when is it illegal?

In some places, always. In some cases, it is allowed only during certain seasons, or in certain areas withing the water.

Quite often, spearfishing is illegal if done with scuba gear. Such restrictions exist around the world, and majority of countries have laws against using scuba gear.

In addition to all that, many countries prohibit night spearfishing where divers attract fish with light sources.

Is Spearfishing Legal or Illegal - Why and When

What About Spearfishing In Freshwater? [Is it Legal?]

Spearfishing is much more popular in saltwater, but that doesn’t mean that there are no spearos in freshwater. There are less currents in lakes, water is shallower, and you can sometimes even hit a target form the surface.

Same as for saltwater, different states and countries have different rules. Generally, it is allowed, but be careful. Even if the state allows it, there may be local rules and regulations prohibiting spearfishing just in certain bodies of water.

Some states, let`s use Oregon as an example, have restrictions when it comes to fish species. You may not spearfish in freshwater for salmon, catfish, and some other species, while you can freely target carp.

In California, you can target striped bass among other allowed species, and there are some excellent locations to do so.

Florida has different rules, and freshwater spearfishing is illegal.

Can You Spearfishing With Scuba Gear? [Is it Legal?]

So, can you spearfishing with scuba gear and why?

Before I answer his, let me briefly mention all essential spearfishing equipment. You can’t use your snorkelling or scuba gear, except for your wetsuit and maybe a snorkel. Spearos use very long fins, special masks for spearfishing with a wider field of view and low volume, and many other items, such as knives, in case they get caught in the line.

Remember how I said that when diving with a speargun you have advantage over the fish? Well, with scuba gear, you can stay under for much lunger, and catch more fish. I would always advise to catch just as much as you plan to consume.

Some people even use rebreathers to stay under the surface as long as necessary, to wait for the perfect specimen. That is the reason why scuba spearfishing is against the law in many places.

Australia is one of them, with just a few exceptions. If you observe Europe, all popular destinations, including Mediterranean ones, have laws against it. This includes all underwater breathing equipment like scuba, rebreathers, and hookah systems.

South Africa has laws against it. Canada too. But, if you really want to try it, there are some amazing locations in the USA where spearfishing with scuba gear is perfectly fine!

Spearfishing in the USA is legal in all states, and it has certain limits when it comes to closed season, bag limits, and prohibited areas. When it comes to spearfishing with scuba gear, it is allowed federal waters. However, rebreathers are against the law in many states.

Is Spearfishing Legal or Illegal - Scuba Gear

Do You Need a Fishing License for Spearfishing?

I already answered this question, but it is important. Yes, you do. But that’s not all. Some species in some states (and various countries) require special tags or permits of you plan to catch them.

In the USA, you need regular fishing license, but every state has a list of species that are off limits for spearos, but anglers holding the same license may catch them. Don’t let that confuse you. Although the license is the same, different rules apply.

Everywhere in Europe, you need to have a license. In the UK, no license is needed, but spearfishing is allowed in saltwater only, and only in tidal areas.

Spain is a good example on how much rules can vary within one state. Some regions require doctors’ certificate to be submitted. Without it, it is impossible to get a spearfishing license. And the worst part is that it can’t be done online, you need to visit a local doctor (you have to know that spearfishing can be dangerous)! And if you decide to buy a speargun there, you have to register it. There are frequent and struct controls along the coast.

License is required in Australia and NZ. Although UK is the exception, you can see that majority of countries and states require a license, and you should aways assume that license is required, unless stated otherwise by the authorities.

Spearfishing Around the World [Where is Legal?]:

And finally, here is a list of countries and states where is spearfishing legal, and all those are excellent destination for any spearo going on holiday!

Is Spearfishing Legal in Japan?

Japan is an island country surrounded by the sea and no wonder it attracts people that like all forms of fishing. Besides, some of the best reel manufacturers come from Japan. However, it may not be the best place to go.

Is spearfishing legal in Japan is a tricky question, that largely depends on a part of Japan. In Okinawa, powered spearguns are illegal, both with gas and rubber sling. You can only use a traditional one that is arm-powered. Laws are kind of grey, and let`s say that in some areas around Okinawa, it is tolerated, however you may not sell the fish. In some other regions, spearfishing is off limit to foreigners, or completely forbidden.

Is Spearfishing Legal in the Philippines?

Another island location that is full of interesting fish species is Philippines. So, is spearfishing legal in the Philippines?

YES, it is legal, except in protected areas. Even scuba spearfishing is allowed! But, laws are also kind of shady. In national laws, scuba is not mentioned as prohibited, but in municipal waters, “active gear” is prohibited. But it is not defined what active gear is, and because of that many people enjoy scuba spearfishing.

Is Spearfishing Legal in BC, British Columbia?

And what about British Columbia? Is spearfishing legal in BC?

Spearfishing is legal in this area; however many restrictions apply. Of course, you must posses a valid license. There are closed season, off limit areas, and many other strict rules that you should check prior to departure. Scuba gear is prohibited.

Is Spearfishing Legal in Ontario?

When it comes to is spearfishing legal in Ontario, I have bad news. It is prohibited. Law is so strict that it is illegal even to carry a speargun in the vicinity of the water (30 meters).

There is one exception, and that is spearing for carp. But that is only in small certain areas.

Is Spearfishing Legal in Jamaica?

Jamaica is a perfect destination for ocean lovers as it is an island country. But, is spearfishing legal in Jamaica? The answer is mostly yes, but there are many species, as well as areas, that are protected. License is mostly required, although there are some exceptions.

You will find info that it is illegal, but that is only for mechanical spears. Hawaiian sling is permitted. But, unfortunately, many locals will cheaply take tourists to tours where illegal equipment is used, and they even advertise online. This is why it is hard to get proper info.

It is prohibited at night, and there are many parties trying to press the government to completely ban spearfishing. A lot of changes are going on there, so make sure that you check is it allowed prir to your trip.

Is Spearfishing Legal in California?

California is a part of US, and that answers is spearfishing legal in California! It is! Recreational spearfishing is allowed in both freshwater and saltwater, however, you need to hold a valid license for the waters you are fishing in. Freshwater spearfishing is extremely strictly regulated, and there is only a few allowed species and locations.

In saltwater it is allowed almost everywhere, although some protected locations and fish species are off limits, but no other special rules apply.

Is Spearfishing Legal in Florida?

Is spearfishing legal in Florida depends on a body of water. It is prohibited in freshwater, while allowed in saltwater. Same as in California, you need to have a license and keep in mind that there are locations and species that are off limits.

Make sure to check the details on official websites.

Is Spearfishing Legal in Michigan?

And what about Michigan? Is spearfishing legal in Michigan or you need to find a better place to test your skills?

Michigan is surrounded by lakes, and spearfishing can be done in various locations. But, there are many rules and regulations that list allowed spear types in certain areas, as well as legal fish species to be caught.

It really depends on a specific location, so make sure that you check it. Of course, fishing license is required. But, if you are into freshwater spearfishing, Michigan could be a good location!

Is Spearfishing Legal in Australia?

Australia is a very popular fishing destinations, and long coastline with water full of fish attract tourists from all over the world.

But, is spearfishing legal in Australia and can you enjoy that type of fishing?

It is legal; however, regulations are strict. No scuba gear is allowed, and spearfishing is restricted to tidal areas. Nevertheless, Australia is a fishing paradise and if you have a chance, go and visit!

This country has a lot of protected marine areas, and you should keep away from those. Authorities are frequently patrolling and checking fishing activities.

Is Spearfishing Legal in Croatia?

And lastly, there is the best European destination, and that is Croatia. Recreational and sports fishing is very popular there, but is spearfishing legal in Croatia?

The answer is yes! Of course, scuba gear is not allowed, and night-time spearfishing activities are against the law too.

You must posses a valid license, must be older than 16 if using a speargun, and maximum of 2 spearguns are allowed per person.

When it comes to licenses, there are two types. Recreational and sport. Spearguns are allowed only for sport license holders.

Is Spearfishing Legal or Illegal - Where


Now you know is spearfishing legal or not, and where to find out relevant info concerning all the details. You can safely assume that license is always required, except is the authorities say otherwise.

Those who like to travel should check all the details for foreign countries they are visiting so that you can prepare any necessary documentation in time.

Use this article as a guideline that tells you what to check and what to expect. And of course, always take care of your safety, and safety of other around you while spearfishing!

And one more thing - don't forget my tips for spearfishing list before you go on the water!

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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