According to speargunfishingtips.com, a speargun is effective between 3-4 m (roughly 10 – 13 feet). You know; for killing fish. The website has nothing to say about the gun’s effective range for injuring or killing people. (Shot placement, people!) For that, Thunderball is our only guide. The chances of an underwater SPECTRE battle are fairly low, shooting someone with a speargun is a crime, and speargun accidents are as rare as the Devils Hole pupfish (usually non-fatal and normally above the surface). So what’s the problem with spearfishermen and women diving in the same environs as unarmed snorklers? I’m glad I asked me that question . . .
Santa Rosa Island Authority staff wants to ban spear guns and spear poles at a popular snorkeling reef in the Gulf of Mexico at Park East as a safety precaution.
“It’s for families to go out and snorkel and enjoy the site,” W. A. “Buck” Lee, Island Authority executive director said of the reef that is highly publicized to tourists. “You have kids out there looking at fish, you don’t need spear guns.”
That’s the opening salvo from an article at pnj.com. You have to wade through a lot of anti-spearfishing agitprop – which fails to note that there’ve been no speargun injuries or fatalities at the reef in question – to read that yes, Virginia, you do need spear guns at the Park East reef (which is already partially off-limits to speargunnners). The info comes from Keith Wilkins, Escambia’s director of community and environment.
“It’s a shallow dive. So bright. Light penetrates it so well,” he said. “It allows you to dive leisurely and examine everything closely.”
Wilkins would not offer his opinion on the spear gun issue. He said he has not informed commissioners of the issue yet. But he believes there will be many questions to iron out on the road to exploring an ordinance to ban spear guns.
“There’s a lot to consider,” he said. “Would (the ban) just be for spear guns, and poles would be allowed?”
If spear guns are banned from the Park East reef, would the ban also pertain to lesser known shallow reefs that are only visited by avid snorkelers, he asked. He also worries a ban would prohibit the harvesting of the invasive lion fish that can strip a reef of juvenile fish.
“If you’re a snorkeler and want to go spear fishing, you’re limited to where you can go,” Wilkins said. “It’s a difficult issue.”
Common sense speargun control? Do it for the children! Or not.