Catch and effort of competition spearfishermen in Southeastern Australia

M. P. Lincoln Smith, J. D. Bell*, D. A. Pollard, B. C. Russell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Competitors in spearfishing competitions in New South Wales, Australia, are permitted to "weigh in" only one individual per species of fish. Points are allocated to each fish on the basis of its weight, its availability and the degree of skill needed to capture it. The catch from such competitions consists mainly of permanently or intermittently reef-dwelling fishes. Catch rates ranged from 0.32 species per man-h for the bottom 10% of divers to 2.87 species per man-h for the top 10%, with a mean of 1.45 species per man-h. Overall catch rates and the catches of several individual species were inversely related to wave height. There was little overlap in the species composition of catches of competition spearfishermen and those of commercial fishermen or anglers. The composition and relative abundance of species in catches from spearfishing competitions were not representative of reef fish communities: many species on the reef were too small to be "weighed in". Also, the rule allowing only one individual per species meant that catches did not always reflect the abundance of a species. The levels of precision associated with catch data for 1 year indicate that meaningful comparisons of catch statistics can be made from year to year. Important unresolved questions concern the effects of non-competition spearfishing on fish communities and whether management decisions based on competition spearfishing data apply to non-competition spearfishing.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)45-61
Number of pages17
JournalFisheries Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1989
Externally publishedYes


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