A lot of spearfishing advocates claim that their sport is more environmentally friendly because, unlike recreational or commercial fishermen who use hook-line-and-bait systems, the spearo can select his/her specific fish.
A recent study published in “Fisheries Management and Ecology,” however, appears to conclude that recreational spearfishing competitions off the Northwestern coast of Spain helped reduce the population of “coastal rocky reef fishes” by nearly 76 percent over the past 50 years.
According to the study’s abstract:
The use of commercial catch statistics to estimate overfishing consequences has been criticised, but alternative long-term data sets are rare. Long time-series data sets from recreational fisheries competitions have been used to infer trends in coastal fish communities. Here an historic archive (1953–2007) of recreational spear fisheries in Galicia (NW Spain) was employed to estimate long-term changes in coastal ecosystems. Using generalised additive regression models, decreases in the abundances of coastal rocky reef fishes of up to 76% over the last 50 years were found. In the same period, the mean body weight also decreased by 76%. In addition, relative catch frequency has decreased for the most valuable commercial species. Overfishing, amongst other human impacts, has brought these ecosystems so close to collapse that it is urgent to implement measures to ensure their recovery.
Agree with the study’s premise? Disagree? If you can access the full report (click here to read it), feel free to debate it in the forum below.