The following spearfishing rules have been formulated by the International Bluewater
Spearfishing Records Committee (IBSRC) to promote ethical and sporting spearfishing
practices, to establish uniform regulations for the compilation of world bluewater
gamefish records, and to provide basic spearfishing guidelines for use in bluewater
contests and any other bluewater spearfishing activities.
The words ``Bluewater spearfishing'' are defined as capturing, or attempting to
capture, with a muscle powered speargun, while breath holding and submerged, wild edible
bluewater gamefish species. There are some aspects of this activity that cannot be
controlled through rule making, however. Bluewater spearfishing regulations cannot insure
an outstanding performance from each fish, and world records cannot indicate the amount of
difficulty in capturing fish. Captures in which the fish is not truly wild do not reflect
credit on the bluewater freediver. Only the individual spearfisher can properly evaluate
the degree of achievement in establishing the record.
CLASSES OF AWARDS
Only fish caught in accordance with IBSRC rules, and within the context of these rules,
will be considered for world records. The general concept is: Breath-holding divers, using
muscle powered spearguns, must spear and subdue their wild bluewater catch unassisted.
They will make every effort to land their catch once speared. Each application will be
reviewed by the certification subcommittee. Committee members cannot vote on a record they
possess, or in which they have a commercial interest.
From time to time the IBSRC will award a meritorious award to an individual who makes
an unusual catch of a listed or an unlisted species. Examples: (1) An unusual fish; (2) or
a fish very close to an existing record considered, due to its extreme size, unlikely to
match the current record; or (3) a record-weight fish which but for one rule infraction
would otherwise become an official world record.
- Divers must be completely submerged when they fire their gun.
- Divers must remain in the water and unassisted until their fish is subdued.
- Divers must retain contact with their float and/or line at all times. If they lose
contact with their gear, they must find it and reestablish contact with it unassisted and
while remaining in the water.
- While potentially dangerous, the use of chum or burley or flashers is allowed provided,
however, that with the use of chum, divers make and distribute it themselves in the water
unassisted (fish used for this purpose must be shot by the diver using it), or in the case
of flashers, they carry it themselves unassisted.
- Fish must be free-swimming, not restricted by nets, traps, fishing lines or other
- Recently tagged gamefish, still exhausted from their recent capture, are ineligible.
- Fish must not be in an artificial environment such as penned-in bays, or in close
proximity to fish nets, fish rearing pens or sanctuaries.
- The catch must not be at variance with any laws or regulations governing the species or
the waters in which the fish was caught.
- A buddy diver may provide a second or additional unloaded gun to the spearfisher,
provided he/she does not assist the diver in any way to subdue their catch.
- In most cases mutilated fish, depending on the circumstances, are not allowed.
- The use of artificial light sources for night spearfishing is not allowed.
- Subdued fish:
- Any fish is taken ashore, or tethered to a boat with a line no more than 3 meters long.
- Mutilated fish:
- Any unhealthy fish. Examples: a fish which is weakened by being previously speared, or
attacked by sharks, or injured by commercial or recreational fishing processes (a recently
caught and tagged marlin).
- An area in the ocean, protected by governmental decree, where the hunting of certain
bluewater species is prohibited.
- Muscle-powered speargun:
- Any speargun that stores potential energy provided from the spearfisher's muscles only.
The gun may only release that amount of energy that the diver has provided to it from
his/her own muscles. Common temporary energy storing sources for spearguns are: rubber,
spring, and compressed air.
- The gun must be charged with muscle power only; no explosive or compressed power is
- Terminal gear:
- Trail line or reels are allowed.
- Divers may tow as many floats as they wish, provided no single float
exceeds 150 pounds (68-kilograms) floatation and the diver must not fight the fish from
within the float such as a small boat or kayak.
- Use of safety boat:
- Divers must pull their fish up unassisted. A buddy diver or crew member may pass
unloaded guns to the diver.
- Powerheads are prohibited. They may be carried by the diver for defense, but they may
not be used to spear their catch.
- Artificial breathing apparatus:
- No artificial breathing apparatus is allowed.
||genus, sp: Thunnus alalunga
||genus, sp: Seriola dumerili
||genus, sp: Seriola rivoliana
||genus, sp: Xiphias gladius
||genus, sp: Rachycentron canadum
|Dolphinfish, Dorado, Mahi Mahi
||genus, sp: Scomberomorus cavalla
|genus, sp: Scomberomorus commerson
||genus, sp: Tetrapturus audax
||genus, sp: Makaria nigricans
||genus, sp: Makaria indica
||genus, sp: Tetrapturus albidus
||genus, sp: Istiophorus albicans
||genus, sp: Istiophorus platypterus
||genus, sp: Caranx ignobilis
||genus, sp: Obesus
||genus, sp: Gymnosarda unicolor
||genus, sp: Thunnus albacares
|Pacific Bluefin Tuna
||genus, sp: Thunnus thynnus
|Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
||genus, sp: Thunnus thynnus
|Southern Bluefin Tuna
||genus, sp: Thunnus maccoyii
||genus, sp: Acanthocybium solandri
|North American Yellowtail
||genus, sp: Seriola dorsalis
|South American Yellowtail
||genus, sp: Seriola lalandi
||genus, sp: Seriola grandis
1. Weighing requirements:
a. The fish must be weighed by an official weighmaster (if one is available) or by an
IBSRC official or by a recognized local person familiar with the scale. Disinterested
witnesses to the weight should be used whenever possible.
b. The weight of the sling or rope (if used to secure the fish) must be subtracted from
the total weight.
c. At the time of the weighing, the actual gear used by the spearfisher to catch the fish
must be exhibited to the weighmaster and weight witness.
d. Only weights indicated by the gradations on the scale will be accepted. Visual
fractionalizing of the gradations is not allowed. Any weights that fall between two
gradations must be rounded to the lower weight.
e. All record fish should be weighed on scales that have been checked for accuracy by
government agencies or other qualified and accredited organizations. All scales must be
regularly checked for accuracy and must be current within 12 months, or quickly
recertified after the weighing.
f. If there is no certified scale available, then the scales must be checked by weighing
objects of recognized and proven weight similar to the weight of the fish.
g. In extremely remote areas where no weighing scales are available, it will be
permissible for the spearfisher to use his/her own scales provided that they are
high-quality scales and have been properly certified both before and after returning from
the spearfishing trip. Fish measurements should accompany this application.
h. The IBSRC reserves the right to have the scales recertified if there are any
indications that the scale might not have weighed properly.
i. Weighing fish on a boat at sea: Weighing at sea shall
be allowed, provided that the scale is certified and that the weight registered is video
taped for a minimum of two (2) minutes. The lowest weight recorded is the official weight.
2. When it is impossible or impractical to weigh the
fish on a certified scale, a formula based on width, girth or other measurements may be
used, provided the formula is approved by the IBSRC and a penalty reduction is applied.
The penalty will ensure that measurement will produce a weight reduction so that 99% of
the fish so measured will be larger than the formula results, when weighed.
3. Catch weighing or measurement must be witnessed and as much documentation as
possible should accompany the application for the record, include any catch-and-release
4. Tissue sample: In order to better help the scientific community, and to positively
identify the fish, the committee requests a small frozen tissue sample be provided. One
gram of frozen muscle is sufficient.
- Divers must record the date, exact location, common name and scientific name of their
catch on an official application.
- Applications shall be in English.
- Four identical sets of photographs must accompany the application providing sufficient
detail for unequivocal species determination. These photographs become property of the
IBSRC which may publish them as it deems appropriate. If there is the slightest doubt that
the fish cannot be properly identified from the photographs and other data offered, the
fish should be examined by an ichthyologist or qualified fishery biologist before the
record is submitted. If a scientist is not available, the fish should be retained in a
preserved or frozen condition until a qualified authority can verify the species, or until
notified by IBSRC. If no decision can be made from the photographs, and the spearfisher
can provide no further proof of the identification of the species, the record claim will
not be certified.
- Photographs showing the full length of the fish, the speargun(s) used to make the catch,
and the scale used to weigh the fish must accompany each application.
- In all cases, photographs should be taken of the fish in a hanging position and also
lying on a flat surface on its side. The fish should be broadside to the camera and no
part of the fish should be obscured. The fins must be fully extended and not obscured by
the hands, and the jaw or bill clearly shown. Avoid obscuring the keels of tunas with a
- When photographing a fish lying on its side, the surface beneath the fish should be
smooth and a ruler or marked tape placed beside the fish if possible.
- Photographs from various angles are most helpful.
- An additional photograph of the fish on the scale with the actual weight visible helps
to expedite the application.
- In-the-water photographs, while not required, are requested if available.
- Acceptance of the application is, in part, dependent upon the completeness of the
description of the hunt and capture. Include when possible, gun type, terminal gear, depth
fish speared in, buddies, name of the diveboat, use of chum, water visibility, sea state,
distance from shore, estimated depth of water, current conditions, time of day, and
associated fish (bait, from a school, etc.).
- Witnesses to the catch: On all record claims, witnesses to the catch are highly
desirable. Unwitnessed catches may be disallowed if questions arise regarding their
authenticity. It is important that the witnesses can attest to the spearfisher s
compliance with IBSRC rules.
- Weights needed to defeat or tie existing records: To replace a record, the fish must
weigh one-half percent (0.5%) more than the previous record. For example for a 200 pound
fish (90.71 kg) to defeat a current record it must weigh 1 pound (.45 kg) more than the
existing record. Any catch which matches the weight or is less than 0.5% greater than the
current record will be considered a tie. Nothing weighing less than the current record
will be considered. Fractions of an ounce, or their metric equivalents, will not be
- Time limits of claims: Six months after the capture.
- Incomplete claims: If an incomplete claim is submitted, it must be accompanied by an
explanation of why certain portions are incomplete. An incomplete claim will be considered
for a record if the following conditions are met:
- The incomplete claim with explanations must be received within the 6-month period.
- Missing data must be due to circumstances beyond the control of the spearfisher making
the record claim
- All missing data must be supplied within a period of time considered to be reasonable in
view of the particular circumstances.
- Final decisions on incomplete claims will be made by the Executive Committee.
- An application fee of USD $50 must accompany the application. If the application fee
presents a financial burden to the applicant, the committee will consider a petition for a
reduction in fee.
PREPARING THE APPLICATION FORM
- The Spearfisher must submit a completed IBSRC application form complete with, weights,
scales and picture documentation. The application must be prepared in English.
- Applicant must personally fill out and mail the form.
- Extreme care should be exercised in measuring the fish as the measurements are often
important for weight verification and scientific studies. (See the measurement diagram on
the record application to be sure you have measured correctly.)
- The spearfisher is responsible for seeing that the necessary signatures and correct
addresses of the boat captain, weighmaster, and witnesses are on the application. The name
of a boatman, guide, or weighmaster repeated as a witness is discouraged.
- The Applicant must appear in person to have their application notarized. In territories
where notarization is not possible or customary, the signature of a government
commissioner or resident, a member of an embassy, legation or IBSRC officer may replace
- Deliberate falsification of an application will disqualify the record and any further
applications by the applicant.