Spearfishing is an alternative to rod-and-reel fishing for recreational anglers.
Under Florida law, spearfishing “means the catching or taking of a fish through the instrumentality of a hand or mechanically propelled single or multi-pronged spear or lance, barbed or barbless, operating by a person swimming at or below the surface of the water.”
It “means the catching or taking of a fish by bow hunting, gigging, spearfishing or by any device used to capture a fish by piercing its body. Spearing does not include the catching or taking of a fish by a hook with hook and line gear or by snagging (snatch hooking).”
In Monroe County, spearfishing is highly regulated as a means of resource protection. Following are regulations that, if violated, could lead to fines or even jail:
- Coral must be protected from damage and removal in state and federal waters. Do not touch, hold on to, stand on, break or otherwise harm coral. It is a fragile living animal.
- Federal bag limits cannot be combined with state bag limits.
- Possession of spears and spear guns is prohibited in Everglades National Park, Dry Tortugas National Park and Florida state parks.
- The use of powerheads, bangsticks and rebreathers remains prohibited when spearfishing.
Remember to abide by regulations regarding fish-size limits. Objects underwater appear 34 percent larger than they actually are. Check with agencies such as the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for current regulations.
Buoys for Diving
All divers and snorkelers in the water are required to prominently display a divers-down flag. The minimum size for any divers-down flag displayed on a buoy or float towed by the diver is 12 inches by 12 inches. The minimum size for any divers-down flag displayed from a vessel or structure is 20 inches by 24 inches. Any divers-down flag displayed from a vessel must be displayed from the highest point of the vessel or such other location that provides that the visibility of the divers-down flag is not obstructed in any direction.
Recreational harvesters are required to possess a valid Florida saltwater fishing license. Consult your license agent for purchasing and exemptions to licensing requirements or visit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website.