“They must consider that great responsibility follows inseparably from great power.” – Voltaire, 1793
“…with great power there must also come –great responsibility!” – Uncle Ben, Spiderman
Spearfishing in itself is a sustainable, pure, and simple sport; a way to catch fresh fish for food. That scenario changes when the person pulling the trigger does not care about sustainability or spearfishes simply to hunt or kill; then spearfishing becomes just as detrimental to the environment as commercial net fishing. As spearfisher men and women we have great power; and with that also comes great responsibility. I am worried and concerned that the emphasis in Spearfishing has shifted from a “green” method to obtain fresh fish using talent and skill to a hi-tech kill zone with no respect for the environment.
I am neither a scientist or a biologist. I am not an activist nor a politician. I am a simple spear fisherman living here in Mexico, I care about the underwater world, I am passionate about the sport of spearing and now, with the changes I see happening: I am worried.
I truly love technology. New technology makes life easier. I find myself saying “Do you remember how we used to do this years ago?” often. Life is faster and things are more quickly accessible. It’s very tempting to use and take advantage of new technology in almost every facet of our lives, however, in some cases, these faster improvements are not always for the best.
Take for example the newest spearfishing innovations. They’re very tempting to buy and use. We really need to think about the consequences that go along with these new inventions. Let me explain. Take for example Roller Spearguns. Generally speaking, they are great. You can now shoot considerably faster and further than a traditional speargun of the same length. As if that wasn’t enough, they’ve now launched triple roller guns. I’ve tried them myself. They’re amazingly fast and have an incredible range. “See a shadow passing by 30ft away from you, just shoot and you’ve caught a fish” I derive a lot of the satisfaction from underwater hunting through the use of skill and technique. It’s a sport, and should be practiced accordingly.
I personally believe if you’re using a roller system you should get a smaller gun. With more power, a true spearo needs to be more responsible.
New technological advancements in wetsuits claim they can reduce your projected electric signal, meaning you create less of a disturbance in the aquatic environment. One manufacturer’s sales material claims their product “is designed to help you get closer to many marine creatures in their natural undisturbed state.” While I am fascinated by this technology, and think it’s a great boon to scientists and underwater photographers, I’m not so sure that it’s sporting – or even fair – to incorporate this kind of advantage into such a simple and pure sport like ours.
I find testimonials of respected spearfisher men disturbing. “My success rate while diving has raised significantly.”, “Underwater hunting to a new level”, “Offering the ultimate weapon that masks a spear fisher from their prey.” “don’t recall chasing wahoo being that easy.” Come on guys, really? Become a Polespear guru based on your own talent and skill and hone that knowledge like a superhero.
Again, I myself love new technology and embrace almost anything that makes life easier. It’s not my intention to sound like an old-school “Spearfishing Daddy” from the dark ages, but I honestly believe that the skill of hunting, the talent of winning a fair fight in the quest to get food is disappearing. With new technology we get more power. And with more power we should be more responsible.
Years ago Freediving and Spearfishing were niche activities. These days both activities have become fairly mainstream: which is ok. We all took part in bringing this sport into popular culture. It became politically correct to spear Lion Fish, a voracious, and delicious, reef predator. Social media rolled out, and we posted photos and stories of fun and adventure on the high seas. Too many times I’ve seen spearos defending the sport of Spearfishing as being sustainable while not being responsible hunters themselves. Just because you spearfish does not automatically make you a “green” eco-friendly hunter. You have great power: so take your responsibility. Eat what you catch. I am not a saint. I have shot and eaten fish I won’t shoot and eat again. Sometimes it’s been a learning curve. I urge you to examine the reasons why you spearfish. In my opinion the best answer is – to get food (while having a great time).
I myself love pole spearing. For me there’s nothing like the feeling of using a polespear instead of a speargun. It requires a lot more skill and finesse to be successful with a polespear since you have to be so much closer to a fish. I have shot fish with my polespear that were more than 4x weight of the current world records. There is a reason insiders gave me monikers like “fish whisperer”, “polespearguru”, “Chanoc” and “Legend”. I could be the one holding the world record of Greater Amberjack. Barracuda, Cobia, Dolphin fish, Crevalle Jack, Horse Eye Jack, White Margate, Mackerel Cero, Permit, Porgy, Mutton Snapper, Cubera Snapper and Triggerfish. So why then is my name not in the record books, why did I not register? Wouldn’t that be commercially a logical and powerful move? It’s simple. One should not be spearfishing to catch the biggest fish. You spear a fish to get food. In the event you do shoot an enormous fish that’s possibly record-worthy, you don’t need to register that shot. Ego-driven record holding does nothing but stimulate others to spearfish for the wrong reasons including spearfishing for competition. Register a your world record as the fastest runner, fastest Formula 1 race car driver, or part of the best sports team. By doing this you are competing with yourself and others, not with mother nature. Pole spearing is not easy. It’s actually quite hard and can be frustrating. The good news is that it is a skill. A skill that you can learn and master. Challenge yourself, and skip the easier way.
Spearfishing can be sustainable. When technological advances march on, and the mind set of some spearos does not change, sooner or later this will all implode and paint spearfishing in a bad light. A better world starts with yourself.
Please think about my words. Great Power. Great Responsibility.
My statement has no intention to harm any inventors, manufactures nor any spearos, and I am convinced that the kind of sportsmen/sportswomen who are environmentally conscious won’t be taken aback by my words. I just wanted to air my thoughts and share them with other spearos, encouraging them to pause for a moment and think. Use the upcoming holiday, take a moment and sit down and contemplate what about this sport makes your adrenaline flow. I’m hoping it’s not the latest gear but the joy of providing food, practicing a physically demanding sport, and being at the top of your game.
I am very proud of my guides here at SpearfishingToday, they respect my opinion, embrace it and share it with others. Thank you so very much Andrew, Anibal, Diego, Luis and Pamela. I respect all 5 of you for this. To have the guts to speak about what you believe in out loud. To put your ego aside. To tell a guest to not shoot Parrot Fish, to spearfish to get food. To educate beginner and experienced spearos. To make a difference. You truly care. You have power. And you take your responsibility. We see our Spearfishing Charter as an opportunity to share our thoughts, knowledge and values.
The team of SpearfishingToday wishes you Happy Holidays! And extend to you our very best wishes for 2017.
My personal 2017 resolution: I will not use a speargun in 2017. In 2017, I personally will hunt only using a Polespear. I accept I will get home without food on some days. Great Power. Great Responsibility. #polespearonly #lessismore #polespearguru
Leo is the founder of Spearfishing Today and also the official representative of the Mexican Spearfishing Association for the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico. He is FII certified, speaks English and Spanish and hunts comfortable up to 100ft. Leo is guiding spearfishing trips only on request in all Spearfishing Today locations in Mexico. He only hunts with a polespear and has a very inspiring opinion about freediving and spearfishing. Nickname: Chanoc. Most memorable catch: 27.99 kilo Cubera Snapper with polespear.
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