Spearfishing With Scuba Gear [Where and How to Legally Do It?]

Spearfishing With Scuba Gear

There is nothing better than traveling around the world and incorporate amazing fishing experiences into your adventures.

Spearfishing is especially popular for this because it allows you to discover the wonders of underwater world and catch many interesting fish species.

But, it is not legal everywhere, especially with scuba gear. So, before you go, you must check local rules to avoid getting in trouble. Responsible spearos always obey the law. Legally, you can spearfish with scuba in USA, Philippines, and some south American countries. License is always required.

Spearfishing with scuba allows you to dive longer and increases your chances to catch a fish. However, in order to reduce these chances and allows more fish to stay alive, many countries are against it.

For those who are into this sport, it is often hard to find information and details about it, especially in foreign countries.

Here I will tell you more about spearfishing with scuba diving gear, and what to do stay on the good side of the law.



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First of All: Can You Spearfishing With Scuba Gear?

Before answering this question, I have to briefly explain what is spearfishing. It is a way of catching fish with a speargun, that can either be elastic or gas powered. To get to the fish, you have to dive and enter its world.

When it comes to the types of spearfishing, it is divided to three categories which is blue water hunting, boat spearfishing, and shore spearfishing.

Of course, all three types can be done while freediving, or with scuba gear.

Using scuba gear for spearfishing allows you to dive longer, sometimes even deeper, and that significantly increases your chances. You can stay underwater for as long as necessary to observe the fish, position yourself to the perfect location, wait for it to get in front of the speargun and hit it.

You can do all this on a freedive, but it is much harder. Scuba gear also allows those who are not fit enough to enjoy this activity. Freediving is hard, and a lot of exercise and experience is necessary to be good at it.


Is it Legal or NOT to Spearfish With Scuba Gear?

Spearfishing with scuba gear can safely be assumed illegal unless stated otherwise by the authorities. Most of the world has laws and regulations prohibiting this practice, even places like New Zealand where spearfishing is popular and widely acceptable, but only if done on a feedive.

It is prohibited all over Europe, majority of Australian continent, and many Asian, as well as south and north American countries.

But, in some places there are no laws against it, and you can enjoy this activity. Ill mention some destinations later.

Can you spearfishing with scuba gear or not depends on a country, and keep in mind that these rules can change. One of the examples is Costa Rica. It was allowed in the past, and now it is forbidden. So even if you did it somewhere years ago, don’t assume it is still legal.

Spearfishing With Scuba Gear - Legal

Where is Scuba Spearfishing Legal? [Examples from the World]

Scuba diving spearfishing can be done in some of the best spearfishing locations around the world where there is plenty of fish and both scuba divers and freedivers can enjoy it!

Here are some popular examples:

USA – spearfishing is allowed in saltwater in all states with some exemptions, like protected marine areas, or areas around water inlets. Of course, some species are off limits, and every state has different rules.

Philippines – in the Philippines, it is a grey area of the law. It is not forbidden by the federal law. It is briefly mentioned that active gear is prohibited, but there is no section that defines wat active gear is.

Victoria – this Australian state allows spearfishing with scuba in certain areas where spearfishing is allowed. However, there are strict rules about close seasons, bag limits, and rules about where and when you can have a loaded speargun.

Chile – there are no federal laws that prohibit spearfishing on scuba gear, however there are places that are protected, and it is not allowed to engage in any fishing activities.

Keep in mind that these rules can change at any time, and it is your responsibility to find up to date information.

Do You Need a License for Spearfishing With Scuba Gear?

Places where is scuba spearfishing legal require a fishing license, unless stated otherwise by the authorities.

Most often, those licences are the same as licences for regular angling. Of course, that is for recreational spearfishing. You can’t engage in commercial spearfishing activities.

Keep in mind that some countries have various licences, and you have to check what is allowed for the holder of a specific license. Sometimes, licences that cover spearfishing cost a bit more.

If you plan to spearfish with scuba, you must have a scuba diving license too if required by the country/state you are fishing in.

In my opinion, the best way to obtain a license is online. You can do it at any convenient time, and you will have everything ready before you go spearfishing.

Spearfishing With Scuba Gear - License

Why is Spearfishing with Scuba Gear on Many Locations Prohibited?

Is spearfishing legal depends on a country, and there are various reasons why some allow it, and some don’t, especially with scuba gear.

While spearfishing with scuba, you have a high chance to hit the fish, which is not the case while angling or freediving. You can also target only the best and the largest specimens, which will then be removed from the ecosystem and won’t spread their genes anymore.

In some areas, this can seriously jeopardize healthy fish populations.

But not everything around it is bad. Spearfishing has one big advantage over angling, and that is avoidance of accidental catch. When you can see what you are catching, you will not catch any protected species that is off limits.

Unfortunately, prohibiting spearfishing protects only a small fraction of fish population because commercial fishing has much larger influence on it.

Of course, spearfishing license is required whether you are spearfishing with or without scuba.

Best Tips for Spearfishing With Scuba Gear

Your first priority when spearfishing both with scuba gear and without should be safety. It is ok to go home empty handed, and catching fish is number 2 priority. Many people ask is spearfishing dangerous, and the answer is that it can be, especially if you are not careful.

So, here are some spearfishing tips on how to improve your safety and catch more fish.

Choose the right time

The best time to go spearfishing is when fish are very active, and that is usually summer, times around sunset and sunrise, and low light conditions. Falling barometric pressure is a plus. But be careful, scuba diving in low visibility can be dangerous, especially if you are a beginner. Never go alone, and keep in mind that sharks are also active at this time, so some places should be avoided.

Check the local laws

Paying a huge fine and getting your gear confiscated is a risk, especially if traveling with spearfishing gear. Check the local rules and regulations. Here is an example. You are traveling around Canada end enjoy hiking and sightseeing as well as spearfishing. In Ontario you can get in trouble for possessing a speargun near the water, while spearfishing is perfectly legal in other parts of the country.

Check your equipment

Scuba gear must function perfectly to provide safety. Buy from reputable manufacturers, service it and check it regularly, and don’t use anything, especially regulators or tanks that seem out of order. Invest in good fins, wetsuits, and the best spearfishing mask. Invest in a dive computer so that you can follow all kinds of parameters related to your dive.

And now here are a few tips on how to catch more fish!

Choose the best places for spearfishing

If you are unfamiliar with the locations check with locals, study the maps, and learn about fish behavior within a certain area. It is similar to angling. You have to find a place where fish congregate, and a good place offers cover for protection and food sources. Empty and vast bottom should be avoided. Search for rocks, coves, covers, underwater vegetation and similar.

Avoid eye contact with fish

Don’t stare at the fish because it will feel threatened. Don’t swim directly towards it. This is especially important with scuba gear because of the bubbles that can spook the fish. Position yourself to a previously chosen spot in a vicinity of fish and don’t aim actively. Wait for the fish to swim in front of the speargun.

Avoid splashing, sudden movements, and stay relaxed

Let’s be honest, you look very unnatural underwater with your scuba gear. Fish will be overly cautious, and you have to do whatever it takes to lower the level of your scariness. Swim slowly, don’t twitch, and be calm. Besides, movement like that will allow you to stay under water for longer time as you will use much less oxygen from your tank.

Spearfishing With Scuba Gear - Tips


Spearfishing with scuba has many benefits, but it can also have a negative impact on local ecosystem. Before you engage in such activity check the local laws.

Besides fishing license, you should posses a valid scuba diving license, and obey closed season, bag limits, and off limit areas.

Make sure that you take good care of your scuba gear, and never dive alone. If you are ready for scuba spearfishing adventure, visit some of the places listed here and enjoy!

About Me

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si 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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