Sport of spear fishing gains in popularity among Marines and Sailors

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Posted by on September 30, 2005 at 15:39:32:

ARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, KANEOHE BAY, Hawaii(Sept. 30, 2005) -- Spear fishing, a very popular sport in Hawaii, is growing in popularity among Marines and Sailors aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii.

“It’s great to do on the weekend and just gets my mind off of the work I have to do all week long,” said Pfc. Timothy J. Regan, traffic management specialist, Traffic Management Office, MCB Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. “I started off just snorkeling but always saw people in the water with these spears. I wondered how they worked, so I went out and bought one and fell in love with the sport.”

Regan, a Boston, Mass. native, explained the experience was one of the most exciting things he has done in his life.

“There is actually a lot more to the sport than you would think,” said Regan. “You have to learn all the rules and regulations or else you could end up being arrested. Also, you have to know the techniques and different things you need and the fish you can and can’t spear.”

Randy Fallau, marine technician, Aaron’s Dive Shop, said a lot of fish are good to eat but may carry a toxin that will get a person sick if eaten.

“Honestly, one of the best ways to figure out what kind of fish you can eat is to go to a fish market and figure out what they sell,” said Fallau, a Kailua, Hawaii native. “This will give you the best idea of what is okay to eat. Parrotfish are good eating; however, please keep in mind that some fish carry toxins. For example, Papio, a tasty fish, may carry toxins, the bigger they get.”

The rules and regulations for spear fishing range from what kind of fish can and cannot be speared to what kinds of spears and equipment you can use to spear the fish. Also, a “bag” limit is set, which limits how many of a certain kind of fish a person is allowed to take home after one day of spear fishing.

For example, anyone spear fishing can harvest a maximum of 20 Papio and Ulua per person in one day or one trip.

In some areas of the United States, a saltwater fishing license must be obtained before a person can go spear fishing, but in Hawaii, this license is not required.

Regan said the most common tools needed to spear fish are fins, snorkel, mask, and a catch bag.

“That’s the cheap way to go, too,” said Regan. “It can be a pretty expensive sport, if you get into buying scuba-diving gear and a lot of other things that will make your chances of spearing ‘the big one’ higher.”

Regan explained the difference and variety in the types of spears and spear guns that can be purchased for the sport.

“I like to use what’s called a Hawaiian sling spear,” said Regan. “It has a big rubber band on the end of it that you hold in your hand, then you pull back on the spear and let go when you see a fish you want to shoot. There are other types of spears, but this one is easy to use and does the job just fine for what I use it for.”

Other spears that are commonly used are pneumatic spear guns, pole spears and sling spears, all of which can be made out of different materials. Common materials are aluminum, wood and stainless steel.

Hawaii has a diverse population of fish, which makes every place a good spot for the sport, according to Regan. Areas where you will usually find people spear fishing are Shark’s Cove at North Shore and North Beach at Kaneohe Bay.

“I personally like spear fishing at North Beach on base,” said Regan. “It’s a close drive and has some really nice fish. The only bad thing is that if you go out too far, you have to bring a marker for protection — that’s in case a boat drives by. The driver will know that there is a person in the water. Just another safety precaution.”

Fallau explained that a spear fisher and other divers must have dive flags. If the diver is surfacing around the flag, he must not surface more than 50 feet away from the flag or marker. Boats must allow at least 200 feet between the boat and a dive flag.

“Even though there are a lot of rules and things you have to know before going, it’s still fun,” said Regan. “It helps with my tan and gives me something to do.”

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