Category: Education

Dept of Primary Industries Spear fishing flyer – Shark Beach, Nielsen Park, Sydney Harbor

Hi Executive, Delegates and Members,

Please find attached a flyer developed by the Department of Primary Industries, Recreational Fisheries Management Team following complaints about spearfishing at Shark Beach, Nielsen Park.

In an email to the USFA, Fisheries Manager, Jim Harnwell states,
"We are proposing to provide copies of the flier to National Parks rangers to distribute to spearfishers and members of the public.

The aim of the flier is to remind spearfishers about appropriate behaviour etc but also inform the public that spearfishing is a safe and legitimate sport which is allowed at this location.

This will hopefully help reduce conflict as it seems some members of the public are unaware that spearfishing is a legal activity at this location."

Copies of the flyer will also be distributed to Sydney Compliance Officers as well as to the USFA.

This is a great initiative by DPI on behalf of Spearfishers.  The USFA are very grateful for their efforts and  have welcomed the opportunity to be part of this process to further advocate for the rights of NSW Spearfishers.

Please distribute to your members and other interested parties.
NSW DPI - Going spearfishing.pdf

Kind regards

Peter Walsh
USFA Secretary

A brief look at Australian Skin and Scuba diving periodicals

Inscriptions from the Depths of Time

In February of 1951 the Underwater Spear Fishermen’s Association (USFA) produced its first magazine, “Spearfishing News”. With USFA secretary Jim Ferguson as editor this publication consisted initially of 6 typewritten pages. Produced monthly it contained hints on spearfishing and equipment, information on rules, monthly and committee meetings, clubs, trophies and a Man of the Month section.

“Spearfishing News” continued being produced by the committee every month until September of 1952 when it first appeared as a commercial publication of 24 A5 pages. After the first 2 issues Jim Ferguson wasn’t happy with the new format and reverted to a typewritten publication for the November issue.

At the November committee meeting of the USFA Jim Ferguson was requested to outline his plan for the future of the magazine. As the committee wished to continue with a commercially printed publication Jim Ferguson resigned and a magazine committee consisting of Edward Du Cros (Editor), Keith Vagg (Associate Editor ) and Jeff Jackson (Advertising) was elected with the first issue being in December 1952 with a cover price of one shilling.

The September 1953 issue saw a name change to the “Australian Skin Diving & Spearfishing Digest” and in November of 1953 Keith Vagg took the reins as Editor.

Producing the magazine was a continuing struggle and in July of 1954 the production and Editorial role for the magazine passed to Phil Knightly. In November of 1954 he was replaced with Richard Dreyfus, who worked in the Mirror office.

By January of 1955 it was reported that the handling of the magazine was unsatisfactory and the services of Mr. Dreyfus were dispensed with. The Feb-March 1955 issue was produced by Dick Barton as temporary editor until September of 1955 when Ray Cooper became the editor. In August of 1956 John Thompson as the USFA’s Business Manager took on the task of producing the magazine until October of 1960 when H.R.Smith & Biro with Bob Smith as Editor, produced the magazine  for the USFA.

Australian Skindivers Magazine - March 1961
Australian Skindivers Magazine - March 1961

This commercial agreement did not work out and in March of 1961 the USFA again resumed control with a new editor and a new name. With Jack Evans as editor and the title “Australian Skindivers Magazine” (ASM), production ran smoothly under his stewardship until he reluctantly relinquished his position as editor, due to overseas commitments. Jack Evans last magazine was the June/July 1969 issue.

John Gillies was then appointed editor with the July/August 1969 edition his first issue with another first for the ASM, a coloured front cover. However by July of 1970 a financial storm was gathering with the USFA not being in the position of being able to pay the printers for the release of the June/July 1970 issue.  When payments were recouped by advertisers, the July issue was belatedly released, this being the final issue of the ASM.

During 1968 a new publication became available nationally with the title “Diver Magazine”. Consisting of 24 pages it was sponsored by Brisbane’s Underwater Adventurers Club with the editor being Don Scheikowski. It appears to have been confined to just a single issue.

This was followed in October of 1969 by “Australian Diver”, also with Don Scheikowski as editor. With a cover price of thirty cents and 24 pages of content it lasted for three monthly issues.

In the latter half of 1970 the man who was to become the undisputed king of dive publishing in Australia introduced his first publication “Skindiving in Australia”.

Barry Andrewartha had developed a passion for skindiving after seeing a spearfisher in action while on holidays at Lorne in 1954. The following year Barry began to spearfish and joined the Black Rock Underwater Group and two years later the USFA of Victoria where he held a number of positions.

Barry had served an apprenticeship in the printing industry as a compositor and later formed a friendship with Jack Evans, the editor of ASM, and began assisting with its production, producing half tone printing plates and other items and on the way gaining much invaluable experience.

Realising the ASM’s demise was inevitable Barry planned to fill the void with “Skindiving in Australia”. Initially produced as a quarterly magazine it underwent several name changes in its 46 years of uninterrupted production.

MAGAZINE TIMELINE

1970      August?                Skindiving in Australia 1st Edition

1974      Vol. 4 No 5          Name change to Skindiving in Australia and New Zealand

1980      Vol. 10 No 2        Name change to Skindiving in Australia & the South Pacific

1987      March/April        Sport Diving in Australia & the South Pacific N0.1

1993      June/July             Name change to Sport Diving

2016      June/July             Final issue of Sport Diving (No. 171)

In October of 1978 Barry Andrewartha first published “Dive News”, on behalf of the Scuba Divers Federation. With Peter Stone as editor and a cover price of 20 cents this eight page newspaper ran for three years until it was discontinued due to lack of support.

Then in August of 1988 with David King as editor Barry published the first issue of “Dive Log”. Initially a   20 page tabloid style newspaper it was available free of charge each month through Dive Shops. It ran very successfully but rising costs caused production to be discontinued with Dive Log available online. Production of a printed issue was recommenced, being available through newsagents and is now a flagship publication incorporating Sport Diving.

Then followed “Scuba Business” a trade journal that ran for four years.

Barry introduced another tabloid newspaper during the summer of 1993/94 when “Australian Freediving & Spearfishing News” became available. In March 1998 with issue number 15 it was renamed “International Freediving and Spearfishing News”. It is still being produced to this day.

In December of 1970 “Fathom” magazine appeared in newsagent’s stands. Produced by Gareth Powell with John Harding as Editor and Roy Bisson in charge of design,  Fathom set new standards in production and design and continued for 10 issues until early 1973.

Another magazine with the title of “Australian Diver” was produced in September 1976 by J.W. Publications, Springvale Victoria. Like its predecessor it was short lived.

Neville Coleman published his first issue of “Underwater” in mid-1981. Introduced as a quarterly publication it initially consisted of 48 pages with a cover price of $2.50. In 1989 with issue number 25 the name was changed to “Underwater Geographic”. The magazine had grown to have 96 pages of content and the cover price was now $5.00.

Also in 1981 another magazine catering for scuba divers had its beginnings when in December Chronicle Publications, with Anthony Newly as editor introduced “The Scuba Diver”, a bi-monthly publication of 56 pages with a cover price of $1.95.

The 10th Anniversary issue dated Oct/Nov 1991 with Cassie Welsh as editor and now produced by the Yaffa Publishing Group was renamed “Scuba Diver”. In March/April 1999 it became “Australian Scuba Diver” with Sue Crowe as editor.

The Dec 2001/Jan 2002 issue heralded yet another name change, this being to “Australasian Scuba Diver”. The magazine now had 104 pages of content and with Michael Aw at the helm the magazine was now being printed and published in Singapore.

Described as 68 pages of spearfishing action “Spearfishing Downunder” was introduced as a quarterly publication with Craig Barnett as editor/publisher in 2004.

These periodicals and the many publications produced over time by clubs and state/national organisations etc. encapsulate the events of their time and provide a wonderful resource for historians, now and in the future. No effort should be spared in their preservation.

The USFA’s Issues with the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment

The NSW Government is inviting your comments on suggested management initiatives to enhance marine biodiversity in the Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion. Please note that the consultation period has been extended until Sunday 8th May 2016.

The Marine Estate Management Authority (MEMA) has created a  discussion paper where they describe eight suggested management initiatives in the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment. The USFA agrees with most of these Initiatives except for Initiative 4 - Spatial Management.

Spatial management is basically another name for Lockouts. The USFA is opposed to lockouts as we believe there are better management strategies than total lockouts.

USFA's Matthew Poulton answers some questions on what the  Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion assessment created by the Marine Estate Management Authority (MEMA) means for spear fishers in NSW, Sydney, Newcastle & Wollongong.
The USFA’s Issues with the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment
http://usfa.org.au/usfas-issues-hawkesbury-shelf-marine-bioregion-assessment/
A better picture showing the expanse of the region under assessment
The Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion under assessment

The Assessment has identified 15 main sites and 44 additional sites. The implications are that as many of these sites as possible will be locked up for good.  Continue reading The USFA’s Issues with the Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bioregion Assessment

Snorkel described as lethal in Australian Parliament

Ping Pong Ball Snorkle
Ping Pong Ball Snorkel

Dr M. H. Cass (ALP VIC) told Federal Parliament in March that an underwater snorkel on sale in Australia was lethal.

He asked the Prime Minister, Mr Gorton, to investigate the sale of the snorkel.

Mr Gorton agreed to make the inquiries.

The snorkel was described by Dr Cass as a long, underwater breathing snorkel with Ping-Pong valves.

He said that an 8 year old boy had drowned in three feet of water while using the snorkel.

From: The Fisherman Winter, 1970 pg. 21.

USFA 2016 address to Spearfishers

Another new year has come around and therefore timely that I make mention of some good things that will continue on benefitting all spearos. In the USFA we are fortunate to have many talented members who willingly volunteer their time to assist in the running of the Association.

The One Up One Down pairs events were well received, why would they not be as any new members are invited to dive and be paired with some seriously outstanding spearos who choose to give up their time to assist newcomers to the sport and show them the ropes for a few hours. Continue reading USFA 2016 address to Spearfishers

Local Competition Rules for USFA – Sydney Metro Zone

Adopted 12/1/09………
Revised ……………

  1. These rules are to read in conjunction with the current USFA competition rules.

 

  1. Dates of Alliman Shields Competition

a) The first Sunday of every month of the year, except January, Mother’s Day, long weekends and major championships. Dates for the upcoming year are to be notified three (3) months prior to commencement.  The year commences 1st January and completes 31st  Where agreed, Allimans may be held in conjunction with major metro controlled events.

b) A notified date shall not include any date which has been allocated to another championship event except as in (a) above. It shall also not include any date which has been previously notified by any club as a veto date.  Veto date must be notified to committee at least four (4) months prior to the upcoming competition year.

c) Alliman Shields must be held on the notified scheduled dates.

d) Allimans will start and finish at the following times

  • January, February, March, April, May, June - 8am till 1.15pm
  • July, August, September, October, November, December –  8am till 1.15pm

These times may vary only where an Alliman is conducted in conjunction with a major Metro controlled competition normally 8am till 2pm or as otherwise notified at the venue.


Continue reading Local Competition Rules for USFA – Sydney Metro Zone

Wally Gibbins

A touching presentation speech for the Wally Gibbins Trophy read by David Birch at the 2015 USFA Awards night.

Walter Hammond Gibbins was born January 16th 1930 in Sydney. In the early 1940s he harpooned leatherjackets from the jetties of Sydney Harbour to feed his family before entering the water with his  homemade mask, snorkel, belts, a scuba (self-contained underwater breathing apparatus) system and speargun to chase bigger game so successfully that most speargun manufacturers use his speargun design even today.

Wally Gibbins - 68lb (30.8kg) Fairy Bower 1952
Wally Gibbins - 68lb (30.8kg) Fairy Bower 1952

Wally’s adventurous aquatic life was often compared to the leading French marine explorer Jacques Cousteau. He was a pioneer diver who spent thousands of hours exploring fish, shells and underwater salvage sites. He filmed many of this exploits for TV or films along with a team of high-profile names, including Ben Cropp and Ron and Valerie Taylor. Wally pioneered the trigger mechanism still used today in many guns.

He caught his first shark, a wobbegong, at Middle Head in 1947, and shot and landed the first man-eating shark in Australia - a bronze whaler in 1950. The capture of a shark by a skindiver (rather than a man being caught and eaten by a shark) created headline news. He also caught with a spear a 400-kilogram tiger shark at Sykes Reef near Heron Island in 1963.

In 1948 he helped form the Underwater Skindivers and Fishermen's Association at Long Reef , winning spearfishing competitions for the next 10 years, as well as the 1952 contest between anglers and spearmen. Wally single handedly caught more fish than all 37 anglers who had fished from the shore or boats. The rest of the spearos that turned up that day, may as well have stayed at home! Continue reading Wally Gibbins

The first South Coast Spearfishing Championships

From Australian Skindivers Magazine April 1964

Wollongong Carnival of Sport Spearing Championships

A proud moment for Judy Sorrenson (Port Kembla) with her trophies.
A proud moment for Judy Sorrenson (Port Kembla) with her trophies.

The Port Kembla Club certainly turned on a well-organized competition on March 14, in conjunction with the City of Greater Wollongong’s 3rd Annual Carnival of Sport. This club showed many of the larger metropolitan clubs that when they said we would have an enjoyable day – they certainly meant it! And the prizes – wow! Never ever have the NSW Executive seen such a line-up of really valuable trophies. No silverware or tin cups but sensible (if not rather too expensive) products including Electric Frypans, TV Lamps, Tea Sets, Sherry Decanter & Glasses, Toasters, Record Players, etc. Over 100 pounds worth of goods all purchased (not donated) by the organizers – the Port Kembla Skindiving Club.

Unfortunately the water was not the clearest although John Black and Brian Raison from Sans Souci Club scored over 300 points each. Bill Lewis caught the heaviest fish (a 25 lbs. Blue Groper) and took home a valuable trophy – a box of pilsener glasses. Continue reading The first South Coast Spearfishing Championships

USFA Press Release: Illegal Spearing of Grey Nurse Shark

Disturbing news is emerging tonight with reports and photographs on social media of two men with spear guns confronted on the beach at Mona Vale, Sydney with a speared Grey Nurse Shark on Sunday 2nd August 2015. The Underwater Skindivers and Fisherman’s Association (USFA) do not condone any illegal practise by NSW spearfishers who do not comply with Fisheries regulations and laws.

The juvenile 1.2m Protected Shark had been shot twice in the head and from an angle that denotes a deliberate act and not a result of self-defence.

When confronted the men feigned poor English and then said the shark had “tried to kill them” before throwing the dead shark back into the ocean along with the rest of their catch.

The two men fled the location in a champagne coloured Nissan Patrol 4WD still wearing wetsuits with numberplates being seen by a few and forwarded to Fisheries.

The Underwater Skindivers and Fisherman’s Association (USFA) would like to remind all spearfishers that every time you pull on a wetsuit you are representing not just yourself but the entire sport, that at all times you must uphold the highest level of ethical standards, abide by all laws and adhere to the USFA Rules and Regulations.

The USFA has also developed the Code of Conduct for Grey Nurse Sharks to assist spearfishers with their interactions with GNS.

This code represents the minimum standards of behaviour and actions required when Spearfishing in proximity to Grey Nurse Sharks. The code is part of the membership commitments to the Underwater Skindivers and Fishermen’s Association (USFA). It also serves as the default standard for all NSW Spearfishers.

Code of Conduct for Grey Nurse Sharks

When spearfishing near where Grey Nurse Sharks congregate:

  • Keep a minimum distance of five (5) metres at all times.
  • Do not knowingly allow sharks to steal catches.
  • Refrain from all forms of flashlight photography of sharks.
  • When sharks move to within five (5) metres discreetly retreat avoiding the projected path of the shark. If the sharks appear agitated, move out of the area.
  • Assist in any scientific research in conjunction with NSW DPI personnel.
  • Maintain and share records of shark populations to be able to ascertain whether they may be increasing or decreasing over periods.
  • When operating in Grey Nurse Shark locations, try to limit direct interaction.
  • Educate other spearfishers who may not be aware of, or otherwise regulated by the USFA code.

The Underwater Skindivers and Fisherman’s Association (USFA) would like all members to assist in any way possible to identify these men so that their details can be forwarded to Fisheries. Report illegal or suspect fishing activities to your nearest Fisheries Office or use the Fishers Watch Phone line on 1800 043 536 or complete the online report form. http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/compliance/report-illegal-activity
The USFA can also be alerted to assist via our Contact Us page. Please address the Secretary
Peter Walsh
USFA Vice President

Equalisation when diving

After conquering a few mental fears equalisation is normally the biggest obstacle that most spearfishers will encounter.

The reason we need to equalise is because it bloody hurts you if you don’t. How’s that for a good enough reason?

Seriously, hydrostatic pressure (10m ocean depth is equivalent to 1 mile high in the sky. We take approximately 10 seconds to arrive at 10m).  That’s why we need to equalise.  As you descend the water pressure increases hence the pressure increases inside your ear canal, hurting your tympanic membrane (ear drum) – you have to “equalise” this outside pressure by matching it with air pressure that you have inside you. Equalising maintains pressure balance between the middle ear space, the rest of the body and surrounding water.  The Eustachian tube comes into play here, this tube runs from the back of your nose to the air space of the middle ear. The tube is generally collapsed, opening when the “clearing” (equalising) process eventuates. When you experience the “crackle, pop” sounds you are equalising, relieving the pressure on the Tympanic membrane and sinus cavities. Correct technique and equalising before you experience discomfort is the key to comfortable spearfishing, and ensuring there is no chronic damage to your eardrums.

Middle Ear Pressure
Middle Ear Pressure

Continue reading Equalisation when diving

Submarine Spearsman – The Queenslander – 1 July 1937

Submarine Spearsman

1937       1 July 1937

The possibility of spearing fish under water is queried by “H.V. In doing so, he challenges the traditional manner of fishing employed by the almost amphibian Torres Straits Island natives. Armed with long spears, Binghi in these parts ventures down several fathoms in search of the finny quarry, and disappears from sight for minutes on end to emerge with a wriggling fish or crayfish impaled on the spear point.

In this submarine venture Binghi wears a pair of “swim glasses” or water tight goggles, which protects his eyes from salt water irritation and permit some yards of under sea vision.

Binghi’s spear thrusts do not have to depend on chance for a success, as they are the result of a perfectly developed marksmanship. So sure of his prowess is the native that on occasions he is able to transfix the brain box of the fish so that it dies instantly, instead of stampeding the rest of the fishy school by its death flurry on the spear point.

LAETITTIA

From:   The Queenslander 1 July 1937 Pg. 2

Spear Fishing – Cairns Post – 1940

Spear Fishing

1940       13 May

Spear Fishing is rapidly becoming a leading sport amongst the youth of Innisfail. The spear employed, unlike the four-pointed spear used by the aborigines, consists of a length of iron with a sharp barb at one end. The swimmers, who wear water glasses, enters the water and submerges to await the fish. When a fish comes near the end of the spear the swimmer makes a jab, and if successful, immediately raises the point to prevent the fish from escaping.

From: Cairns Post 13 may 1940, pg. 6

Angles on Angling

Angles on Angling

1947       9th May

24 years old Alf Rowen, who conducts a bootmaking establishment in Crown Street Wollongong, has a natty fish catching device.

None of this old-fashioned sinker and line business for Alf – he has a “sear-gun” that fires a 4ft. 6in. stainless steel shaft UNDERWATER!

He dons goggles and a lead – weighted belt (to keep him steady on the sea floor), shoulders his “spear-gun,” takes a deep breath and dives into the depths.

Usually, Alf hides himself under a ledge, or in a hole, and lays in wait for some large, unsuspecting fish.

He claims he never worries about the small ones and during Easter, at Sussex Inlet, the average weight of 80 fish caught was 1 3/4 to 2lbs.

Alf will be ‘shooting’ them on Sunday morning between eight and eleven o’clock, just off the Wollongong Continental Baths.

DAVID HENWOOD

From:   Illawarra Mercury Friday 9 May 1947 pg.1

One that didn’t get away – Record Black Bream

ONE THAT DIDN’T GET AWAY

1969 13 July

Spear fisherman Michael Bray, of Johnson Street, Peakhurst, holds a 23in long black bream which he caught in Sydney Harbour off Shark Island.

Michael arrived for the Metropolitan Skin Divers’ Club  presentations with the catch last night.

Record Black Bream“Now they will have to believe me” he said, nursing the deep-frozen bream weighing 8lb 1oz (3.657kg) and with a girth of 20 inches.

He saw the fish while swimming with a friend, Mr Mervyn Sheehan, of Sans Souci, on Friday.

“We both fired together: my spear hit him in the side – my friend’s spear missed.”

Michael said he used a rubber-powered gun for the catch.

Michael, a sculpture student at the East Sydney Technical College belongs to the St. George Skin Divers’ Club.

He said he would eat all of the fish himself tomorrow. “I’m very fond of fish.” He said.

The publisher of “Anglers Digest” said last night that Mr Bray’s catch was almost certainly a record for a speared fish.

He said an 8lb 4oz black bream had been caught with a line at Swansea in 1967, but previously spearfishermen had not caught one anywhere near that weight.

From: Sun Herald Sun 13 July 1969 pg. 2

Results of an Unbiased Fishing Survey – 1966

1966 September

RESULTS of an UNBIASED FISHING SURVEY

An article by a very old friend of mine, Bill Barada, is based on the findings of a survey on the “Sport Fish Catch and Effort” made by the Resources Agency of the Department of Fish and Game of California. This comprehensive report by Daniel J. Miller and Daniel Gotshall, took four years to compile and concerned nineteen employees of the Department directly assigned to field duties on the project, apart from scores of persons acting in honorary capacities. This 135 page report, which I have read carefully, completely dispels any theory that skindivers could be held responsible for any overall depletion of fish stocks in the U.S.A. and there is nothing to suggest it would be otherwise in Australia.

Of all sport fishermen, anglers fishing from piers, jetties, etc., captured 1,034,000 fish representing 32.1% of the total sport catch. Shore fishermen, angling from beach, rock and estuary, contributed 31.9% of the total, while anglers operating from charter boats caught 24.9% and from small craft 10.5%. Skindivers or spearfishing, with all its so called efficiency, accounted for 0.7% of the total sports fish taken.

George Davies

From: Australian Skindivers Magazine September 1966 page 13.

Spearfishing Competitions – 1976

SPEARFISHING COMPETITIONS

Dear Sir

I am the unrepentant hunter of fish, and manufacture equipment to hunt fish. I think most groups of spearfishermen ensure that their catch is eaten, that ecological principles are observed, and their sport is correctly enjoyed. Of prime importance is that the young are maturely guided – there is no generation gap between underwater buddies… (Let’s use the Australian term – mates).

Spearfishing clubs have to be commended for their work in education. Such indoctrination can only be done through clubs, and if over restrictive measures are taken they will not be followed, but broken in a regrettable manner.

The sport of spearfishing has saved many lives. Men have learned to obtain food and in emergency have learned to cope with tempestuous conditions to save their personal lives and the lives of others – in many cases to cooperate with authorities to retrieve bodies. There are quite a number of awards for bravery given to the risk of life.

The sport demands the utmost physical challenge and it has particular appeal to the adventurous young who are willing to be guided in balanced conservation by the leaders of their sport – but without the willing guidance of such sportsmen they would be rebellious!

When one considers the millions of tons of fish taken commercially, and compare this factor to the catch of spearfishermen in the occasional shallows which allows their sport, it seems the conservationists are using the sport of spearfishing as a target for the promotion of that cause, or their personal advocacy – rather than to achieve effective measures of fish preservation.

Yours faithfully

Don Linklater
Managing Director
Undersee Products Pty Ltd

From: Skindiving News from the Metropolitan Zone    Vol. 2 No 7 Jan 1976 Pg. 4

An evening discussion of Spear Fishing Ethics & Sustainability

Ian - Fisheries
Ian - Fisheries

The origin of this seminar was brought about due to the World Wide Web continually being under estimated by spear fishermen , that’s us!

Where many praise a Billfish capture; a large fish say a Mulloway that is happened upon while spearing Bream for tea; catching your bag limit of just legal (maximum) lobsters, there are the people who will taunt you for doing this. There are several errors of judgement we can make as a hunter and gatherer when using social media. Continue reading An evening discussion of Spear Fishing Ethics & Sustainability

The Underwater Spearfishermans Association N.S.W. First Annual Picnic

SUNDAY 21 ST NOVEMBER, 1948

To be held at
Malabar Beach.

Events for the day Starting at 11.a.m.

No. 1 First Fish.
No. 2 Breath Holding Contest
No. 3 Underwater Target Shoot.

Lunch Adjournment

No. 4 Two hour Fishing Contest, for the greatest weight of Fish (other than Sharks and Sting Rays).

Prizes

1. For the Best Fish of the Day.
2. Largest Fish.
3. Best Bream.
4. Best Black Fish.
5. Best Groper.

Summary of fishing laws for the information of speargun fishermen operating on ocean beaches and saltwater streams of New South Wales

1959 1st December

SUMMARY OF FISHING LAWS FOR THE INFORMATION OF SPEARGUN FISHERMEN OPERATING ON OCEAN BEACHES AND SALTWATER STREAMS OF NEW SOUTH WALES

The following is a digest of the provisions of the New South Wales Fisheries laws as they apply to speargun fishermen operating in the tidal waters of New South Wales. Tidal waters are all streams affected by tidal influence and also include ocean beaches, coastal saltwater lakes, lagoons and ponds. The use of spears, spearguns and similar devices for the capture of fish is totally prohibited in inland waters.

Licences:

Persons taking fish by means of spears, spearguns or similar devices are not required to hold a licence.

Bag Limit:

There is no bag limit in respect of fish taken in saltwater except bass and all species of groper, but speargun fishermen are requested to avoid waste by ceasing to fish when they have obtained sufficient fish to satisfy their own requirements.

With bass, there is a bag limit of ten (10) fish per person per day but, as their capture is limited to a rod and line or handline with not more than two hooks attached, they cannot be legally captured by a speargun. The bag limit with groper of any species is not more than two (2) fish per person per day.

Sale of Fish:

Speargun fishermen are permitted to take fish for their own consumption and under no circumstances are they permitted to sell their catch. Continue reading Summary of fishing laws for the information of speargun fishermen operating on ocean beaches and saltwater streams of New South Wales

A major marine disturbance

1948 9th October

Yesterday’s piece about the feud between Manly’s rod fishermen and fish – spearers reveals much more than a mere ruffle on the angling waters. The feud shows signs of developing into a major marine disturbance.

The Amateur Fishermen’s Association has already hooked spearmen out of Tuggerah Lakes, Port Hacking and Wallis Lake, near Forster; now seeks to cast a wide and fine – meshed net to drag them out of metropolitan waters.

Neither side has much hope that a compromise plan – no spearing within 50 yards of an angler – will work out.

The anglers reckon that even at 50 yards the spearmen will scare the fish off. And that doesn’t take into account the apoplexy that the mere sight of a spearman tends to engender in their normally placid bloodstreams.

Each force has closed its ranks. Spearmen are busy organising themselves to stave off threats to their freedom; lobbyists from both camps are already employed trying to manoeuvre the political machinery their way. Trouble is there’s no provision for or against spearing in the Acts governing methods of fish capture.

Hasn’t been so much tension in Izaak Walton’s business since the introduction of the barbed hook.

From: The Sun 9/10/1948

Spearing is winter sport for surf men

1946 1st July

SPEARING FISH IS WINTER SPORT FOR SURF MEN

Fish – spearing is the latest craze among Coogee Surf Club members.
Even these cold mornings young Don Millar is in and under the water at daybreak, spearing fish for breakfast.

Millar yesterday was proclaimed champion of Coogee Surf club when he speared three fish (two morwong and a sergeant baker) in almost as many minutes.

1946 Spearing Fish is Winter Sport.Armed with spear gun, goggles and a lead belt that takes him to the sea bed, Millar always gets a catch.
He lies on the bottom to catch flathead and sergeant baker, and swims about to spear morwong and blackfish.
He dives from the rocks and swims out to about 25 feet of water.
He is not worried about sharks as he thinks they go to warmer water in the winter.

KNEW HIS FISH
Millar is getting to know his fish.
Every morning a 40 lb. drummer watches him at work.
Millar never takes a shot at him, as he is too strong and might swim off with his spear.
“Morwong and blackfish are the most curious fish”, said Millar.
“They will sit and take a look and will often swim up to me to see what is going on”.
Millar says under – water swimming gives him wonderful breath – control which he thinks will improve his swimming next season.
The spear gun is made of wood with brass fittings. It carries a long stainless unattached steel spear.
The spear is launched by a thick elastic band fired by a trigger.

From: Sydney Sun 6/7/46

Pioneer Spearman – The story of Jim Linquist

PIONEER SPEARMAN
This is the story of Jim Linquist By Ron Cox

When the war finished in 1945, Jim Linquist returned from the Islands to his home town of Cudgen, situated near the borders of Queensland and New South Wales. With his return he brought back a vast knowledge on the art of spearfishing.

Jim LinquistJim’s fondness for the rocky foreshores of the Cudgen Creek made him realise that, by the clarity of the water and the knowledge he had gained in the Islands, it was apparent the waters around his home town must contain fish worthy of spearing. The idea did not remain dormant and, in a short space of time, a very hurriedly – made set of equipment was forthcoming.

Continue reading Pioneer Spearman – The story of Jim Linquist

Review of Spearfishing Regulations in NSW

1996 May

REVIEW OF SPEARFISHING REGULATIONS IN NSW

The Minister for Fisheries, Bob Martin, today announced a review of spearfishing regulations in NSW. The review is consistent with my pre – election commitment to “Review the management arrangements of all major fisheries on a regular basis”. A review of spearfishing regulations has not been held in the last five years and a number of research, compliance, education and management issues regarding spearfishing in NSW need to be addressed.

The review will address the relevance of the existing spearfishing laws in NSW. The review will recommend, where necessary changes to laws to ensure the long term sustainability of fish stocks in NSW. The review should also ensure that a maximum number of fishers can enjoy the sport and contribute to an equitable distribution of the catch. The review should ensure that spearfishing laws are, as far as possible, consistent across the state, easily enforceable and understood.

A committee of spearers, industry representatives and NSW Fisheries staff has been formed to oversee the review. The review committee has the appropriate knowledge to comment on the current regulations and to represent a broad cross section of the diving community.
A discussion paper and questionnaire on the major recommendations will be prepared and distributed for comment.

There is a need to implement fishery regulations that are effective, based on sound research data, and have broad community acceptance. I urge all spearfishers and members of the community to participate in the review.

Bag Limit on Red Morwong

1974 31st August

BAG LIMIT ON RED MORWONGRed Morwong At a previous meeting of the Amateur Fishermen’s Advisory Council, council was advised that representations made by the NSW Underwater Federation regarding the imposition of a bag limit on red morwong would be investigated.

Council was advised that these investigations had been completed and action was being taken to introduce a bag limit of five red morwong per person per day.

From: Information Sheet A.F.A.C meeting 31/8/1974

Camp at Bass Point, Shellharbour

1950 September

CAMP AT BASS POINT, SHELLHARBOR

A camp will be held at Bass point, over the 8 Hour week-end, everyone is invited. A marque will be put up for those who cannot supply their own tent. It is essential for us to know how many is coming, and who is coming by train, as we will meet two trains only. The trains leave Central, Friday 29th September at 7.27 p.m., arrive Shellharbour 10.41 p.m. Saturday 30th September, leaves 8.08 a.m. arrives Shellharbour 11. 08 a.m.

All supplies for the week-end must be taken as there are no shops. There are excellent Fishing Grounds, and you can get a lee out of the wind any time.

So come along, one and all! !

Yours sincerely

The Underwater Spear-Fishermen’s Association of N.S.W.

Man Spears Tiger Shark Underwater

The first spearfishing competition and Jach Egan with the first Trophy awarded to a Spearfisher. - Mel Brown

Underwater fisherman Jack Egan, of Potts Point, yesterday speared a six-foot tiger shark in 10 feet of water at La Perouse beach.

The President Dick Charles Trophy The Underwater Fishermans Assoc of NSW For the best fish of the day 17 Oct 1948 won by Jack Egan
The President
Dick Charles Trophy
The Underwater Fishermans Assoc of NSW
For the best fish of the day 17 Oct 1948
won by Jack Egan

Egan was one of a party of 20 members of the Underwater Spearfishermen's Association of N.S.W. which had dived into the sea of the rocks at the northern end of La Perouse Bay in search of prey.

All the fishermen wore swimming trunks and carried sling spearguns.

Two hundred yards from the rocks Egan submerged and swam slowly above the sea bed. “Through the water, I saw the tiger cruising along the bottom,” he said later.

“He was a nasty brute.”

Egan aimed his gun at the shark and fired. The spear , with a line attached, pierced the
shark behind the gills.

Jack Egan
Jack Egan

Egan swam to the surface and called to two other speannen who were swimming nearby. One of them, Les Gleeson, swam over to Egan and helped him pull the shark towards the shore.

“The tiger was threshing the water as we got close to the rocks,” said Gleeson.

“We hauled him up on the rocks and finished him off.”

Gleeson, a committee member of the association, said a cup was to be awarded for the largest game speared during the day.

“Jack Egan will certainly get that cup,” he said. “He is the first member of the association to spear a shark.”

From: News report Sunday 21“ November 1948

Aquacades 1949

Aquacades 1949 letter with Bill Heffernan (left) & possibly George Sheen (right)
Aquacades 1949 letter with Bill Heffernan (left) & possibly George Sheen (right)

Sydney will have its first close — up public View of those intrepid sportsmen, the spear— fishermen, at tonight’s premier in North Sydney Olympic Pool of the Aquacades of 1949. They’ll use a variety of equipment, including the famous Salvus outfit which was used by Allied Navy personnel in the recent hostilities for attaching mines to the hulls of enemy ships.

Three different types of spear — guns will be used (range  underwater 40ft.).

One of the experts who’ll be demonstrating tonight is sportsman Bill Heffernan, of Tuggerah, who averages a meagre 451b. of fish daily! The other day before he came down to rehearse for the aquacades he took his gun and nabbed a l6lb. flathead in six feet of water.

The Salvus outfit, incidentally, is being bought up fairly extensively by councils for jobs ranging from harbour diving to the cleaning of swimming pools. It allows the wearer to remain under water at a depth of 30 feet for up to 40 minutes. It’s operated by oxygen bottles strapped beneath the arms.

Sunday 12th January 1949

Diving into Serious Danger

Despite warnings on hyperventilation given by spearfishing clubs and their state association, the NSW Underwater Federation, near drowning from the practice still occur in spearfishing contests.

After making six deep dives during the Australian Spearfishing Championships at Ulladulla last Christmas, Ray Johnson, 18, of Kingsford, hyperventilated for about 45 seconds before making a seventh descent.

He swam down about 70ft. As the fish were “Spooking” – shying out of range – he decided to explore a cave, a rash act at that depth.

“I saw something at the back of the cave and tried to get a better look,” Johnson recalls “but realised I had been down too long”. Continue reading Diving into Serious Danger

Mel Brown – A true gentleman and custodian

Spearfishing’s greatest historical custodian and true gentleman, Mel Brown, has been honoured and humbled by his inclusion on this year’s Australia Day Honours List.

Mel was made a member of the Order of Australia for his service to recreational fishing through an extensive range of representative and advisory roles.

Mel Brown with a Yellow-tail Kingfish in 1975
Mel Brown with a Yellow-tail Kingfish in 1975

The purpose of the Order of Australia is to recognise, by national honour, those who have made outstanding contributions that benefit their communities, and ultimately our country.

The second purpose of the Order of Australia is that it serves to define, encourage and reinforce community standards, national aspirations and ideals by acknowledging actions and achievements and thereby identifying role models at all levels and in all spheres of the community.

The Underwater Skindivers and Fisherman’s Association (USFA) are extremely excited and proud of Mel’s exceptional achievement.

USFA President, Peter Saunders, was especially proud saying, “There is no one more deserving of this national recognition than Mel.  The things he has done for spearfishing and the hours he has put into this sport are just phenomenal.  He is a true gentleman and legend.”

Mel first began spearfishing in 1962 at 18 years of age.  Over the last 53 years he has held numerous vital roles within spearfishing and government bodies.

His first ever dive was on the south coast of NSW at Bulli Point, just off the rock pools.  He affectionately remembers shooting his first fish, a Rock Cale, with his trusty 2-piece brass hand spear.  He then upgraded a few years later to a telescopic model with which he was able to secure fish up to 10kg.  “After losing a few 20kg Kingfish,” he chuckles, “I thought it was time to upgrade.  My first gun was and Undersea Bantam.  I am still using a gun almost as old as that now.”

Mel began his representative duties as USFA Minutes Secretary in 1971, before moving on to other roles such as Treasurer.  He was there when the USFA changed to the NSW Underwater Federation and then again to the AUF NSW Branch.  Mel is now USFA Historian and is Australia’s greatest custodian of spearfishing history.  He has all of the original minutes, magazines, photos, t-shirts, equipment catalogues and documents dating back to April 1948 when Australian Spearfishing first took shape and the USFA was formed.  His records continue on to include the formation of the AUF in the following years up until present day, making for a rich collection of our spearfishing history in Australia.  He also owns what could easily be described as the largest collection of spearguns and early diving equipment ever seen in Australia, which he often takes to displays and events around the country.

In recent years Mel has begun the arduous process of digitising these records for future generations and uploading them to the USFA website.  www.usfa.org.au

Mel has been holding positions and helping spearfishing for 44 years and would be one of our longest serving workers.

“Things have changed a lot since those first days”, Mel recalls, “back then everything was written out by hand and then later transferred onto a typewriter.  We then used a Gestetner machine, which was a manual printing press of sorts, using paper stencils.”  “You might run off 50 copies and then they would have to be mailed out to the clubs and executives.  It is much easier today.  I can just send an email.”

When asked how he found the time to get all this done Mel confessed, “I was fortunate to work nightshift a the mines where I was an Electrician.  I’d get on top of my work then duck off to a quiet corner to attend to spearfishing matters.”

It is not practical to list all of the positions that Mel has held over the years and the representative and advisory bodies that he has been a part of.  However, of important significance some of his roles included:  the Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing, NSW DPI (1991 – 2006); Jervis Bay Marine Park Advisory Committee (1998 – 2003); Abalone Management Task Force (1994 – 2002); Grey Nurse Shark Recovery Team.

It was, however, his role on the Rock Lobster Management Advisory Committee (1995 – 2001) that Mel feels he did his proudest work.  Today’s Rock Lobster fishery is thriving and is in the best condition seen for decades.  Mel explained that back when he first joined the committee “the fishery was not doing very well at all.”

“There was no maximum size limit and the minimum size was far too small.  Even today it is still a little small.  They don’t really breed until they are about 2kg in size.  I’d like to see the minimum size increased. However, by us introducing the maximum size limit to protect the breeders and through the success of other management strategies we have seen a positive result.”

Mel Brown with a Cobia in 1975
Mel Brown with a Cobia in 1975

Further to this Mel recounted that “back then the ‘black market’ was out of control and the commercial fisherman had no real controls in place.  Through the committee we established protocols on the minimum/maximum size limits and introduced tagging and quota systems for the commercial lobster fishermen.”  “There was a lot of politics involved back then”, “They were going to close the recreational catch altogether”.   “It is definitely a pleasing and positive outcome that I am proud to have been a part of, especially considering I was the first ever person from a recreational fishing background to be appointed to a Commercial Fisheries Management Committee.”

When asked what he saw as the most critical issue facing today’s spearfishers, Mel indicated that “access issues and Marine Parks were probably our biggest threats” and that “education and the club systems” were our best defences available.

Over the next 5 – 10 years Mel would like to see “strong leadership in both, working with government departments and in running the USFA”.

“I am very pleased to have received this recognition.  To have spearfishing as a whole recognised nationally in such a positive light is just fantastic.  There are a lot of hard working and well deserving candidates.  It is very overwhelming yet satisfying in a humbling way.”

This level of commitment and effort for so many years comes at a personal and family sacrifice at times.  The USFA would also like to acknowledge and thank Mel’s ever supportive wife, Roslyn, for her enduring support throughout the years.

Mel is currently working towards gaining some federal support to realise his dream of truly documenting Australia’s spearfishing and diving history.  He would like to setup a diving museum and have all of his records professionally digitised and catalogued along with all his early spearfishing and scuba diving equipment displayed for all to see and enjoy.  “It would be a terrific thing.  It is important to know your sport.  To know where we have come from and how it progressed.”

“It was not that long ago that spearfishers were wearing jumpers to keep warm and making masks out of truck inner tube tyres and glass.”

“There has been such a dramatic technological development in materials and manufacturing.  It really is marvellous”.

On behalf of all spearfishers, the USFA would again like to congratulate Mel on his national recognition.  It is truly exciting and satisfying to see his dedication rewarded.

He is indeed a true gentleman and legend of this sport

Peter Walsh

USFA Vice President

The Underwater Scene

1951 January
THE UNDERWATER SCENE
By Rod McNEILL

An exploration of the underwater scene answers many queries for anglers. The old adage “fish are where you find them” is undoubtedly true, particularly when you are looking for them in your own element.

Whether it be an angler or an underwater spear fisherman, the movement of fish is of intense interest. Many observers of both methods of taking fish have seen fish captured from what has often been considered barren area. This, naturally, has stimulated interest of anglers and spearmen alike.

The most interesting aspect of being an angler-cum-spearman is that one has the opportunity of observing all the interesting underwater movements of the fish for which one angles from above.

This, in itself, must interest the angler who has never had the opportunity of working under-water.

Having spent the past 20 years fishing with rod and line for drummer and luderick, I feel I can speak with some confidence. As a keen angler, I had often fished a locality where it was customary to catch reasonable quantities of these species and disregard the possibility of fishing in less inviting places.

The Underwater Scene

Like most rock fishermen, I considered the surge and wash in the vicinity of reefs, etc., most likely places to fish successfully. Undoubtedly, fishing in such positions does produce the desired results, but my activities as a spear fisherman has given me the opportunity to explore the fishing grounds with almost a fish’s eye.

This, coupled with my unabated interest in angling, has completely re-educated me, regarding the possibility of catching fish in various places along the foreshores. Places where an attractive “cabbage” or “weed” bait would appear to be of little purpose, now suggest more than just a mere possibility. As a rod-and-line man, I would have by-passed the calmer water. As a spear fisherman, I see extensive schools of luderick feeding in places where, as an angler, I would never have imagined them to be feeding.

On a rising tide at dusk in both calm and milky surging water, I have seen drummer willing to rise to floating food. Often, when below the surface, I have felt confident that a bread bait used in such positions would be a positive.

Places such as this can be shown to any keen drummer angler by an experienced spear fisherman.

Many anglers, owing to physical limitations, cannot be expected to take an active interest in underwater spear fishing. But, would not such information be of value to them?

Fishing spots are a subject of much discussion among anglers, particularly rock hoppers. A glimpse of them through the goggles would end many arguments.

Fish habitats and movements beneath the water are of interest to line and spear fishermen alike.

The drummer, or “pig” (that is, the black gentleman), are about our most common sight underwater. The smaller fellows play in a group of often a hundred or more, but the bigger fish are much more scattered. The “pig” is essentially a curious fish, and its swallow-like movements make it hard to target, except for the experienced.

Even then the shot is a moving one, and there is no greater fighter on spear or hook.

The luderick, another “gorilla” (to become zoological) is good to eat and good to hunt. Occurring mostly in schools, our striped friend is always a wary target and yet has the innate flightiness of his species.

To quote the old hand at this art of spear fishing, one Denny Wells, “There is nothing more exasperating or exhausting than looking for a shot in a flighty school of niggers.”

Red morwong (or red carp) are fascinating rock dwellers. Many a bream angler, hooking “the biggest bream of the night,” has been disappointed to find either his gear busted up or has dragged a morwong from the rocky bed.

The red morwong is relatively easy prey for the spearman. His fighting efficiency when hooked or speared is unquestionable. The approach to him, as an underwater intruder, has two aspects: Firstly, the morwong is undoubtedly a most stately fish. To most, he appears as some proud stallion. He has a lofty air of almost studied indifference to his surroundings. His sheeplike stupidity makes him a comparatively easy target.

As a second consideration, the morwong is an excellent table fish, combining the taste of blackfish and bream.

The black bream is a fish that has always had the respect of the light-line angler.

The keen night breamer, with his insistence on quiet, no lights, and his endless theories on when and how to “hit” a biting bream, is an interesting man.

A visit to the black bream under water would surprise him. Fishing among the boulders, the spearman often comes upon a school of feeding bream. They will never stay around as long as the luderick but their timidity is not so acute as the line angler would suppose. The bigger ones are more wary, but quite a few fall to the spearman’s steel.

The big “blue” - the famous and beautiful groper of the N.S.W. coast – is the spearman’s ambition. Experienced spearmen never take a shot unless reasonably certain of mortally wounding the big fellow. His initial rush is so powerful that 150lb. nylon behaves like cotton under the strain.

The loss of a spear and expensive headwear is a consideration, but wounding and loss of such a large creature is something that the humane fisherman abhors.

The blue groper is often found in quite shallow waters and near a “wash.” He becomes obviously excited upon being approached and his tiny pectoral fins flutter in agitation. A ‘
“blue” will either move rapidly off on sight, or will twist and move in an agitated manner in much the same area, giving the spearman a chance for a breath and a shot.

Fast-moving fishes, such as salmon, kingfish and mulloway, are infrequent catches for the underwater man. A chance school or odd individuals give an occasional opportunity for a shot.

The ‘rays are fearsome objects seen underwater. Their lazy, rippling swimming action and their batlike heads create a rather awesome atmosphere. They are embarrassingly friendly at times and their presence is not welcome, particularly when a glimpse is caught of the ratlike tail, with its enormous barbs.

On one occasion I saw one of these “Army blankets” sink over a wounded luderick and then move on its rippling way leaving no trace of the poor “nigger.”

A lot is heard of the carpet shark or wobbegong. Being a nocturnal feeder, he is seen most often towards dusk. He is a lazy-looking, ugly creature, but capable of terrific speed if scared or on the hunt. This can be proven by the fact that we have found remains of the speedy salmon in the stomachs of some of them.

As a personal theory, I feel that “wobbies” become more active and antagonistic in early summer. Most stories of definite attacks on spearmen have occurred during this part of the year.

Ron Ware, a prominent spearman and sworn “wobbie” enemy was recently bitten on the foot by a large member of this species. Only for the fact that he wore leather shoes at the time, I am sure the outcome would not have been so uneventful. Even so, the shape of a “wobbie’s” dentition, in deep puncture marks, is not a pleasant reminder of his potentialities as an underwater menace.

Spearmen do not disturb fish to the disadvantage of the line angler. For three winters now, I have taken nigger gear and speargun to Pussycat Bay, at La Perouse. There, in rough, southerly weather, we search the washes for luderick, bag a few with the gun and, when the cold beats us, we warm up at a fire, rig the rods, and fish in the same place with good results.

All spearmen return time after time to their favourite fishing spots. Even a break of half an hour between “dips” is enough to allow the fish to return and continue their feeding and usual habits.

Often a spearman will notice that a fish is most agitated and apprehensive when between a rocky projection from the seabed and the hunter. A fish is always a less flighty target when not hemmed in. This is because all fish have a lateral line. This line starts at the operculum. Or gill opening, and runs along the thicker part of the body, curving down to its end short of the tail or caudal fin. It is in effect the fish’s radar mechanism. J.R. Norman, in his excellent work “A history of Fishes,” says: “A lateral line system has been generally regarded as the seat of a sense akin to feeling, but it would perhaps be more accurate to describe this sense as combining the qualities of hearing and touch.”

The lateral line is a concentration of nerve endings that convey sounds and vibrations to the fish’s brain.

Dr. Barton, one of the world’s leading ichthyologists, marvels at a fish’s ability to dash about a pool without injury. . . .”One cannot but admire the marvellous muscular response, the extraordinary rapidity of co-ordination of the body of the fish to the varying stimulation on the lateral line sense on one or other side of the body.”

So it must be stressed to the spearman-learner that quiet and lack of hurry are essentials in good hunting. One’s muscular contractions, even heart beats under stress in quiet waters, are a warning signal to perturbed fish.

This is but a brief resume of fish movements under water, but constant observation by spear fishermen will provide invaluable information, not only for spearmen but for anglers, too.

So much more can be said on this subject. Every phase of it could be enlarged and expanded, which only goes to show that fishing is not just a matter of baiting a hook or loading a speargun, but full of enormous detail and endless interest.

Let us not count our success by the number of fish we bring home. Let us appreciate the relaxation, the friendships, and the wealth of interesting detail that those magic words “Comin’ fishin’ ‘’ bring to us.

From: Anglers Digest January 1951 Pgs. 260-262, 294.

 

 

Old Sport – New Method – Jan 1949

Old Sport

Fishing by spears is an ancient method, but they've really brought it up to date in the last few years, with the use of guns to propel the spears.

So much so that underwater fishing is now in the organised sport class, with a rapidly growing list of followers and a stiffening opposition from the orthodox rod and line anglers, who regard the practice as unsportsmanlike.

The Underwater Spearfishing Association of N.S.W., formed last summer, now conducts regular outings.

Equipment for the sport varies. The most popular consists of a gun, spear, diving mask, and a weighted belt, at a total cost of about five pounds. Other outfits are more complicated – and expensive.

The most widely used gun has a barrel about nine inches long, to which is attached a strong rubber band in the form of a loop, and a shoulder piece to steady the gun. The spear, of quarter-inch stainless steel, has two moveable barbs. The top barb opens at right-angles after the fish has been speared, to prevent it slipping off the end. The lower barb opens if the fish slips down the spear.

The rubber mask has a glass oval front, and covers the eyes and nose but leaves the mouth free for breathing.

The webbing belt has about 5lb. lead attached to steady the spearfisher against currents and to enable him to get to the bottom quickly.

From: A.M. for January, 1949 Pg. 58

Formation of Speargun Fishing Association

March 1948

Dear Sir,
Many followers of this popular sport are concerned that as a result of the general hostility and organised protests by line fishermen, the Fisheries Department may be obliged to add to the restrictions already existing at Tuggerah Lakes and at other places.
A recent deputation of speargunners to that Department at which it was disclosed that a Speargun Association was contemplated was favourably received and it could be inferred there might be some official recognition of our interests.
It has been arranged to hold an informal meeting of all interested in the formation of an Association at Long Reef, Collaroy, at 2.30 p.m. on Sunday, April 4th. Please invite every speargunner known to you to attend and incidentally to bring his gear as there is plenty of room and fish and the tide will be O.K.
The rendezvous will be in front of the Long Reef Golf Club House premises. We shall be glad to learn of your intention to attend or otherwise.

Yours Sincerely,
F.M. CUNLIFFE
57 Lagoon Street, Narrabeen

R. CHARLES
47 The Avenue, Hurstville

Spearmen Went In After the Fish

1948 5th April

Spearmen Went In After the Fish
Spear fishermen formed an association yesterday to educate the public in the sport and then gave a demonstration at Long Reef to show how they caught fish.

Mr. Dick Charles, of Hurstville, who is president of the new body – the Underwater Spear Fishermen’s Association of New South Wales – told the meeting the public did not understand spear fishing.
He told members they were in danger of having it banned. For this reason the association was being formed.

About 50 enthusiasts expressed willingness to join.

Mr. Andy Armstrong of Neilsen Park, last week annoyed an orthodox fisherman by his success with the spear and received a blow on the head from the butt of the rod. He agreed that the interests of spearmen must be protected.

About 40 members gave the demonstration. Conditions were cold and overcast, but the spearmen caught about 30 fish up to 4 ib. in weight. They included red carp, black-fish, morwong and one big stingray, almost three feet across, which was earlier thought to be a shark.
The spearmen, watched by hundreds of spectators, were not deterred. “See you later if a shark doesn’t see me first,” was one characteristic comment as the took to the water.

All types of spears were used from a simple barbed rod with bamboo handle, with which Mr. Don Linklater, of Bondi, landed a fish within a few minutes, to elaborate spring guns like that of Mr. Charles.
Most of the fishermen wore face masks and held their breath while submerging for short periods.

Others had more elaborate apparatus, including small rubber floats to which tubes were attached, carrying air down to spearmen below the surface.

One man wore a “frogman’s suit” of rubber, with a diving helmet and air tube which enabled him to stay below indefinitely.

Mr. Jack Egan of Potts Point speared the stingray, using a rubber-powered sprin-gun.

From: Sydney Morning Herald Mon. 5th April 1948

USFA of NSW Foundation Members

April 1948

JOE BROMWICH
RICHARD S. CHARLES
RON CLISSOLD
NEVILLE COOK
FRANK CUNLIFFE
A. DE GRUEN
BRUCE DIXON
TIM EALEY
JACK EGAN
JIM FERGUSON
RALPH FLEMING
LES GLEESON
ALLAN GREEN
TERRY HAGLEY
LES HAWLEY
BILL HEFFERNAN
G. JEFFREY
DON LINKLATER
LOIS LINKLATER
ROLLO MOORE
COL MYLES
GEORGE OWERS
NOEL PETTIFER
D. PHIBBS
J. PHIBBS
B. ROGERS
J. SHAFFRAN
GEORGE SHEEN
DENNY WELLS
M. WELLS
L. WILSON
R. WISE

Chesty Bond Trophy

1951 Chesty Bond Cup W. Gibbins
USFA - Chesty Bond Cup, Heaviest Fish 1950-51 Season by W.Gibbins with a Blue Grouper weight 45 1/4 lbs or 20.5 kgs.

 

USFA members packed the A.F.A. rooms to capacity on 1st November 1950, to exchange ideas on gear and view equipment. President Dick Charles once more urged members to abide by and promote Association safety rules and ethics, stressing particularly the need to turn their backs to the shore when unloading spearguns.

Former secretary Les Hawley was presented with an inscribed tray with cut glass trimmings, in recognition of his hard work during the difficult early years of the organization; he received a tremendous ovation.

It was announced that Bond’s Industries, makers of Bonds Athletics, etc., have donated a valuable trophy for the heaviest edible fish (sharks, rays, etc., excluded). The competition, open only to USFA members, opened on November 3 and will continue until 4 pm on February 28, 1951.

To give the competition as much interest as possible Bond’s Industries arranged for their super salesman Chesty Bond to go spear fishing in the pages of the “Sun” from November 9 to December 12.

From Outdoors and Fishing December 1950

Ban on Scuba Fishing in NSW

1969 27 June

The N.S.W. Government has banned the use of self – contained underwater breathing apparatus (Scuba gear) for spearfishing.

The Chief Secretary, Mr. E.A. Willis, said that the new regulations issued yesterday under the Fisheries and Oyster Farms act would make it an offence to take or attempt to take any fish except abalone while wearing the apparatus.

In effect the only breathing device that can be used is a snorkel.

Mr. Willis said the regulations had been recommended by the NSW Amateur Fishermen’s Advisory Council, and had been endorsed by the Underwater Skindivers and Fishermen’s Association.

The USFA of NSW Committee expects every affiliated club and member to respect and enforce this law, aimed at conservation, and report any breach of same.

From: Australian Skindivers Magazine July/August 1969

Dare – Devil Adventure: A Blast from the Past

This storey reprinted from the June 1949 issue of “Outdoors and Fishing” magazine documents the first recorded outing by spearfishers to Jibbon Point on Port Hackings southern headland. At this time fins were unknown in Australia. My how things have changed.

Spearfishing has caught the imagination of the adventure – loving Australian and the ever increasing membership of the Underwater Spearfisherman’s Association of NSW is indicative of the growth of this sport.

To many who are familiar with the formation of the rocky foreshores along the coast, the task the spearmen have set themselves in seeking this sport under the ledges and among the caves in the reefs, leaves the average angler aghast at the daring and adventurous spirit of these aquatic dare – devils.

It would be foolish to ignore the element of danger in respect of this sport and, while the spearfisherman may take every precaution against attack, it is agreed that the Wobbegong shark is a prevalent danger. Quoting from “The Fishes of Australia” by G.P. Whitley, F.R.Z.S. this shark is described as follows, ‘The Wobbegong Shark, or carpet shark, is noted for the beautiful colour patterns of its skin, which is ornamented with symmetrical designs in brown and greys. They live among weed – covered rocks where they feed on whatever swims their way and generally lie dormant on the bottom.

They have long, sharp teeth and curious weed – like outgrowths around their mouths. Unless by chance a wader’s foot or hand comes within reach, these sharks are not dangerous to man.”

Despite the hazards attached to this form of fishing, three members of the spear fishing fraternity recently made an investigation of the rocky foreshores of Jibbon Head.

One of the party, Ron Clissold, dived into eight feet of water and, in the process of investigation, found himself sharing the vicinity with a huge Wobbegong shark. Ron surfaced, called his companions and a plan of action was decided.

David Rawling was sent down to reconnoitre the proposed scene of battle. The Wobbegong was still in his lair and after further discussion with John McColl, the third member of the trio, they decided to attack in force. With spearguns loaded, the daring trio prepared to go below and engage the shark. Adjustments to belts and knives were made in case of urgent need and an inspection of the surrounding reef was made in readiness for the possibility of a quick escape if required.

Prepared for the task ahead, the lads went down. Approaching the lair with care the trio spread out to give each other cover. The baleful eyes of the shark watched the swimmers with a calculating gaze that boded ill for careless mistakes; and the hunters were on the alert for the sudden rush that might come at any minute.

The first spear flashed through the water and found its mark in the tough hide of the shark, followed by two more as the guns were brought into action. The force of the spears as they entered the body caused the shark to be dislodged from its position, but it quickly regained its place ready to charge. The spearmen surfaced for air, keeping a sharp lookout for attack from below as they regained their breath. Ready for a renewal of the hunt, David went down and approached the wounded shark with caution.

The blood from its wounds misted the water with a thin film of red as the hunter grasped the spears in an effort to force the shark away, but it charged him as he stood on the uneven sea bed. With the threshing shark fighting against his grip on the spears, David saw his mates enter the fight.

A tough battle ensued and the shark was finally forced into shallow water and held down on a ledge three feet under the surface with the help of David pushing from below. With super – human effort their quarry was finally manoeuvred on to the shore.

The estimated weight of the “catch” was in the vicinity of two hundred pounds while its length was seven feet six inches. The danger in this episode can be fully appreciated by the following extract from Mr. Whitley’s book:

“As long ago as 1789, Phillip wrote of the Wobbegong in his ‘Voyage to Botany Bay’ , he stated; ‘this fish was met with in Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, by Lieutenant Watts and is supposed to be as voracious as any of the genus, in proportion to its size; for having lain on the deck for two hours, seemingly quiet, on Mr. Watts’ dog passing by, the shark sprung upon it with all the ferocity imaginable, and seized it by the leg; nor could the dog have disengaged itself had not the people near at hand come to its assistance ...’ “

The spear fishermen of Australia will no doubt continue their adventures, and let us hope that only pleasure will be the result.

Grey Nurse Shark

Common Name: Grey Nurse Shark
Scientific Name: Carcharias taurus
Maximum Size: 400cm
Range:  QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, WA.

The Grey Nurse Shark is probably the most commonly seen large shark in NSW. It can be found around headlands, particularly near large cave systems; islands and deepwater bommies. Usually the sharks aggregate in schools, ranging from a few to over a hundred individuals. Juveniles can be found in water as shallow as 1-2m and seem to avoid hanging around large adults.

This species is generally placid, although the use of burley and the vibrations put out by speared fish may result in having to deal with agitated and inquisitive sharks. Divers have been bitten under these circumstances, however the injuries were minor.

resent.

Blue Groper

Common Name: Blue Groper
Scientific Name: Achoerodus viridis
Maximum Size: 120cm
NSW Record: 19.054kg (before it became a protected species)
Range: QLD, NSW, VIC

Note: Linefishers may take still take this species. See NSW Fisheries website for legal lengths and bag limits

The Blue Groper is a commonly seen species on NSW reefs and is easily distinguished by its size and swimming technique. The frantic waving of the pectoral fins is a swimming style common to the Wrasse family, to which this species belongs. The juveniles and females can range in colour from light brown to dark green, the dominant male takes on a bright to dark blue colouration. Should the male die, or be caught by linefishers, the next largest female will change into a male over a period of several days.

 

Queensland Groper

Common Name: Queensland Groper
Scientific Name: Epinephelus lanceolatus
Maximum Size: 300cm
NSW Record: 177.81kg (before it became a protected species)
Range: QLD, NSW, NT, WA

The Queensland Groper is the largest bony fish found in rocky and coral reef habitat. The distinct markings shown above can fade to a dusky grey in large fish, however the sheer size makes them difficult to confuse with other species. Although in the past the author has confused them with boulders and attempted to hide behind them while stalking other fish. 

Seahorses, Seadragons and Pipefish

Common Name: Seahorses, Seadragons and Pipefish
Scientific Name: Syngnathidae
Maximum Size: 40cm
Range:  QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA, NT.

Seahorses, Seadragons and Pipefish belong to the family Syngnathidae and are completely protected in NSW. It is illegal to harvest them for any purpose, including for aquariums, unless special permits are granted.

Seahorses can often be found in estuaries, clinging to sponges and seapens.

Pipefish are commonly found in estuaries, particularly in seagrass meadows.

The only species of Seadragon found in NSW is the Weedy Seadragon, which is found in deep kelp stands and seagrass meadows, especially in sheltered bays.

 

Eastern Blue Devilfish

Common Name: Eastern Blue Devilfish
Scientific Name: Paraplesiops bleekeri
Maximum Size: 40cm
NSW Record: 0.624kg (before it became a protected species)
Range: QLD, NSW.

The Eastern Blue Devilfish is a rarely sighted species, living deep within cave system, often in family groups of several adults and juvenile fish. It can be found in estuaries, as well as deep offshore waters. Its most often spotted at dawn or dusk, or on heavily overcast days, near the entrance to the cave. A uniquely coloured species, it is difficult to confuse with any targeted fish species. Care should be taken when spearing fish such as Black Drummer in caves, in case this species is also present.

Australian Marine Park Information

Understanding the rules

A word of caution: If you break the Marine Parks rules and are charged, it does not matter if you did not know you were breaking the rules. Ignorance is not a valid legal defence.

What is a “no-take” area?

An area where all forms of fishing, recreational and commercial is banned. This includes gathering shellfish or crustaceans or collecting seaweed.

How is a Marine Park mean to work?

By setting aside areas for protection, the aim is to create a system of areas which are not harvested, and which can supply adults and juveniles to the surrounding areas which are still open to fishing.

Does it work?

For some species, particularly long-lived and territorial species, yes, Marine Parks can work quite well. For other species, especially open-ocean, pelagic species such as tuna; the no-take areas would have to cover massive areas of ocean to be effective.


Australia

http://www.environment.gov.au/topics/marine/marine-reserves

Commonwealth marine reserves:
South-west | North-west | North | Great Barrier Reef | Coral Sea | Temperate East | South-east | Heard Island and McDonald Islands

Map of Australia's network of Commonwealth marine reserves (PDF - 842.05 KB)


New South Wales

http://www.mpa.nsw.gov.au/
http://www.mpa.nsw.gov.au/pdf/NSW-Marine-protected-areas.pdf
http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/habitat/protecting-habitats/mpa

There are six Marine Parks currently gazetted in NSW:
Cape Byron | Solitary Islands | Port Stephens-Great Lakes | Jervis Bay | Batemans Bay | Lord Howe Island


Queensland

http://www.nprsr.qld.gov.au/marine-parks/

The three state marine parks in Queensland are:
Great Barrier Reef Coast Marine Park | Great Sandy Marine Park | Moreton Bay Marine Park


Victoria

http://www.vic.gov.au/environment-water/water/marine-parks.html
http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/forestry-and-land-use/coasts/marine/marine-national-parks


South Australia

http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/marineparks/home


West Australia

http://www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/management/marine/marine-parks-and-reserves


Tasmania

http://www.parks.tas.gov.au/index.aspx?base=397


Northern Territory

http://www.parksandwildlife.nt.gov.au/
Limmen Bight Marine Park 

Morwong, Red

Common Name: Red Morwong
Scientific Name: Cheilodactylus fuscus
Maximum Size: 65cm
Record: 
Range: QLD, NSW, Vic.

A common resident of rocky reefs in NSW, the Red Morwong is the species many beginner Spearfishers first cut their teeth on. Found in shallow fringing reef, right down to the sandline in 20-30m, this species has a relatively small home range occupied by a school ranging in size from small juveniles to large, dominant males. During the day the fish will generally sit amongst boulders and in crevices, and are easily speared once found.

The freshly hatched larvae are paper thin and can drift for weeks before settling on shallow reef and kelp areas. As they grow the males develop a set of “horns” on their forehead. The females either lack the horns, or have a much smaller set.

Red Morwong can live to be over 40 years old, and as they are extremely territorial, they can be locally over-fished. Data from NSW Fisheries suggest Spearfishers are the main group catching this species.

Morwong, Blue

Common Name: Blue Morwong, Rubberlip Morwong
Scientific Name: Nemadactylus douglasii
Maximum Size: 80cm
NSW Record: 5.050kg
Range: QLD, NSW, Vic, TAS.

A generally deeper dwelling species than its cousins, the Red and Banded Morwongs, the Blue Morwong is more often taken by more experienced divers. By far the most common habitat for this fish is the “sand line”. This region is where the rocky reef meets the sand of the deeper areas along the southern coast line. This species can also be found in shallower areas, especially after storms have stirred up the shallower (4-5m) reefs. Any spot that has Snapper, Bastard Trumpeter, Tarwhine or King Wrasse will also be a likely spot for Blue Morwong.

Blue Morwong occur singularly, in pairs and in small schools. Underwater they appear greyish in colour and often blend into the haze at the edge of visibility. The pectoral fins are a darker blue than the body and quite elongated. The Jackass Morwong (Nemadactylus macropterus) occurs in similar habitat, but is more commonly found in Victoria and Tasmania. The Jackass differs from the Blue Morwong by having a dark stripe across its nape (neck) and generally smaller size.

Little is known about the breeding habits of the Blue Morwong, but they are not mature at the minimum legal length of 30cm. The maximum age of this species is estimated to be over 20 years.

Like most Morwongs, the Blue is very inquisitive. The favoured technique is to swim to the bottom, near a likely looking ledge or drop-off and wait. Banging rocks together, throwing up sand and banging the gun handle onto the floor all work well. If spooked, the fish will flee very quickly but often return later for another look. Larger schools form in deep water where they are targeted by commercial fishers. NSW Fisheries estimate that the recreational catch of this species is about three times that of the commercial sector.

Bream

Common Name: Yellowfin Bream
Scientific Name: Acanthopagrus australis
Maximum Size: 65cm
NSW Record: 3.657kg
Range: QLD, NSW, VIC.

Yellowfin Bream are common in estuaries and in shallow coastal waters. Oyster reefs and cungee covered reefs are especially good areas to hunt this species.

This species is best distinguished by its yellow fins, dark margin on the tail and silvery-gold colour. Confusing species are Snapper and Tarwhine, the former either being much larger than a bream or having small blue spots; the latter has distinct gold stripes and a blunter head.

The fish mature at around 22cm in length and 5 years of age. The adults migrate great distances and spawning occurs in coastal waters, the young fish return to live among mangroves and in seagrass meadows.

To approach this species the best method is lying on the bottom and waiting for the fish to become curious and cruise in for a closer look. Commercial catches of this species range from 200-600 tonnes per annum. The annual recreational catch is estimated at 800-1000 tonnes.


Tarwhine

Common Name: Tarwhine
Scientific Name: Rhabdosargus sarba
Maximum Size: 45cm
NSW Record: 1.980kg
Range: QLD, NSW, WA.

Tarwhine are common in estuaries and on shallow rocky reefs. They can form large schools of smaller fish; the largest individuals are often solitary.

This species is best distinguished by the bright golden stripes and gold coloured pectoral fins. It can be confused with the Yellowfin Bream which lacks the stripes and has a pointier head.

The fish mature at between 16-21cm and 2 years old. Spawning takes place in coastal waters during winter and the young fish return to estuaries.

To approach this species the best method is lying on the bottom and waiting for the fish to become curious and cruise in for a closer look. Commercial catches of this species range from 20-80 tonnes per annum. The annual recreational catch is estimated at 130-200 tonnes.

Yellowtail Kingfish

Common Name: Yellowtail Kingfish
Scientific Name: Seriola lalandi
Maximum Size: 250cm
NSW Record: 43.00kg
Range: QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS, SA, WA.

The famous “Kingy”! A much sought after species, the fighting qualities and sheer size of large Yellowtail Kingfish make them a prized catch for just about any spearfisher. Found around headlands, islands and occasionally in estuaries, any spot holding large amounts of baitfish near deepwater is a likely spot to see a Yellowtail Kingfish.

This species has “counter-shaded” body, with a greenish-silver dorsal surface, a dark stripe along the lateral line from head to tail, and a white belly. The yellow coloured tail stands out quite strongly underwater, and a good indication of large size is a relatively small tail. This species is confused with the Amberjack (Seriola dumerili) and the Samson fish (Seriola hippos) which have a similar body shape, but lack the yellow tail and have a dark stripe running diagonally through the eye.

Male Kingfish mature at around one year of age and 47cm fork-length, whereas females take longer to reach breeding age at 4 years and 83cm fork-length. This species spawns in the spring-summer period, the young fish stay well offshore until 40-50cm in length. Maximum age for this species is over 20 years.

Kingfish are often targeted using flasher or burley to attract the fish towards the diver. The best approach to get into range seems to be to simply wait for the fish to approach whilst hanging in mid-water. A speared fish will often be surrounded by other Kingfish, so a quick dive on a fish another diver has speared will often result in another capture. The recreational catch for this species is estimated to be between 120 and 340 tonnes per year.

Snapper

Common Name: Snapper
Scientific Name: Chrysophrys auratus
Maximum Size: 120cm
NSW Record: 13.221kg
Range: QLD, NSW, VIC, SA, WA TAS.

Snapper are found on coastal reefs and offshore. They can come in to shallow reefs, particularly after heavy storms. Small individuals are often sighted along the sandline adjoining rocky and coral reefs.

This species is best distinguished by the bright blue spots on its body when small, and a large snapper is unlikely to be confused with the Yellowfin Bream or Tarwhine. Large adults can have large humps on their head, which appear to be the result of benign skeletal growths.

The fish mature around 22-41cm in length (exact NSW data unknown) and spawn several times in a year. The juveniles live in shallow coastal bays.

To approach this species the best method is to burley a likely area and wait for the fish to settle in to feed before diving to the bottom near the burley and waiting for them to come back in. Commercial catches of this species range from 200-450 tonnes per annum. The annual recreational catch is estimated at 200-250 tonnes. The majority of the fish caught are within 3cm of the legal limit and it is estimated that less than 1% of fish reach 10 years of age. Snapper can live to be over 40 years old.


Nanygai

Common Name: Nannygai, Redfish
Scientific Name: Centroberyx affinis
Maximum Size: 40cm
NSW Record: 0.822kg
Range:  NSW, VIC, TAS.

Nannygai are found on deep coastal reefs to offshore waters. They often reside near cave systems, sharing them with Bullseyes. The fish pictured above was found in relatively shallow water of 27m.

This species is best distinguished by its red colour, large eyes and forked tail. The related Swallowtail Nannygai has a longer tail which has a deeper fork.

The fish mature at 10cm in length and can live to be 30 years old.

To approach this species the best method is to lie on the bottom close to where the school was sighted and wait for the fish to return. Commercial catches of this species range from 50-70 tonnes per annum in NSW water, with a further 800 tonnes in the Commonwealth managed fishery. The annual recreational catch is estimated at 20-40 tonnes.

 

Australian Salmon

Common Name: Eastern Australian Salmon
Scientific Name: Arripis trutta
Maximum Size: 75cm
NSW Record: 7.860kg
Range:  QLD, NSW, VIC, TAS.

Eastern Australian Salmon schools can be found along headlands and in bays, ranging in depth from 2-20m. The size of the schools can range from a few dozen fish to many thousands.

This species has a distinct green coloured back and dark tail, with individuals in good condition having yellow pectoral fins. Confusing species are Tailor, which are generally smaller (in NSW) and have a rounder head. Western Australian Salmon occasionally swim up the east coast but a difficult to tell apart from their local cousin unless the gillrakers are counted.

The fish mature at around 40cm in length and 4 years of age, spawning in coastal water during summer. The eggs and larvae drift south to Victoria and Tasmania before migrating north to complete the cycle. The sexes are separate.

To approach this species the best method is a slow dive, parallel to the school and waiting for the school to approach or cut across the diver. Commercial catches of this species range from 500 to 1000 tonnes per annum. The annual recreational catch is estimated at 150-200 tonnes.

Mangrove Jack

Common Name: Mangrove Jack
Scientific Name: Lutjanus argentimaculatus
Maximum Size: 120cm
NSW Record: 11.68kg
Range: QLD, NSW, NT, WA.

The Mangrove Jack is often found in estuaries, particularly as a juvenile. Adult fish can be found on rocky and coral reefs, to depths of over 100m. Mangrove Jack will usually have a home cave within their territory, and a good cave system may hold multiple fish.

This species is generally of a greyish colour underwater, unless spotted in the shallows where the red colouration will show. The white-grey line underneath the eye is a prominent feature of smaller fish. Confusing species include the Moses Perch, which has a black spot on its side and the Black Cod (see protected species page) which inhabits similar habitat.

This species spawns in late spring to early summer and juveniles drift on the prevailing currents before settling in estuaries and on shallow rocky reefs.

The Mangrove Jack will respond to burley, but the main challenge is locating the fish in the first place. Looking for good cave systems close by to baitfish and near the sandline seems to be the best approach.

Black Cod

Common Name: Black Cod
Scientific Name: Epinephelus daemelii
Maximum Size: 120cm
NSW Record: 81.00kg (before it became a protected species)
Range: QLD, NSW, VIC.

The Black Cod is found in rocky and coral reef habitat ranging in depth from inter-tidal rockpools to deep waters well offshore. Its colouring can range from greyish-white to pure black. The colour form pictured above seems to be the most common in shallower areas. The black spot on the caudal fin is a key identifying mark. It can be confused with the Wirrah which has a deeper body and blue spots on the head and body. Other similar Serranid species include the Purple Cod and the Maori Cod, both of which have similar cave dwelling habits, but quite different colouration.

NSW Fisheries Information – Department of Primary Industries

The NSW Fisheries department is charged with the sustainable management of fisheries activities that take place in NSW. The Fisheries Management Act gives certain powers to the NSW Fisheries Officers and they apply the Fisheries Management (General) Regulation. The Regulations are reviewed on a regular basis with input from stakeholders such as recreational and commercial fishers; as well as conservation groups.

A word of caution: If you break the recreational fishing rules and are charged, it does not matter if you did not know you were breaking the rules. Ignorance is not a valid legal defence.

Understanding the rules

What is a “fish”?


For the purposes of legislation and regulations dealing with fishing activities the term fish means:

  • Sharks and rays
  • Bony fishes such as bream and morwong
  • Cephalopods such as squid and cuttlefish
  • Crustaceans such as crabs and lobster
  • Oysters and other molluscs
  • Echinoderms such as sea urchins
  • Beachworms and other polychaetes

And the definition applies regardless whether the animal is dead or alive, or has been cut into pieces.

What is meant by “take or attempt to take”?

The “taking” of fish (see above list for what a ‘fish” is), is the act of catching and killing a fish, gathering or collecting fish, or removing fish from a rock or other attachment point. “Attempting to take” means you were trying to take a fish. In legal terms, it doesn’t matter if you were successful at killing a protected species, if you had the intent to do so; you are guilty of an offense.

What is the difference between the terms bag limit and possession limit?

The term “bag limit” refers to the amount you are allowed to catch on a given day, “possession limit” refers to the TOTAL amount you are allowed to have in your possession, say in your catch bag at the boat ramp, and at home in your freezer. A good example is Luderick, where the daily bag limit is 10 (as at November 2014), but the possession limit is 20.

What if I have accidentally done the wrong thing?

If you’re lucky and the NSW Fisheries official is in a very forgiving mood, you may get off with a warning. However that should be considered the height of good fortune and if you are in possession of a protected species, under size fish or are over the possession limit, a fine is the very least you can expect. Penalties can include time in goal.

What is considered poaching?

As recreational fishers, Spearfishers cannot sell their catch. “Selling” is defined as taking fish to sell, swap, barter or otherwise gain a benefit, or attempting to do so. It is illegal. End of story.

An example might be where you catch a good bag of bream and offer them to your local takeaway in exchange for other food. That is illegal.

What about spearing fish for family and friends?

That is ok. But remember, many species of reef fish are long-lived and territorial. No one intends to deplete local populations of a particular fish species, but overfishing can and does have local impacts.

Know where you can and can’t spearfish

To begin with, currently all freshwater creeks, streams, rivers, lakes, impoundments and dams are closed to spearfishing. The ‘Freshwater’ begins at the tidal limit of rivers that empty into the sea.

Are the any areas where I can’t spearfish but where other forms of fishing are allowed?

Yes, other than the above freshwater areas, see the link below for a comprehensive list.

http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/fisheries/info/closures/spearfishing

In the listed areas all forms of taking fish with spear is prohibited. Some of the closures are historic, other’s are to prevent divers interacting with boats, whilst some were simply the result of politics.

 

1st NSW Premier Club Competition

WATSONS BAY, OCTOBER 1967

In an effort to determine just which club was the best the Sans Souci Dolphins decided to organise a “Premier Club Competition”. An invitation was sent to Mid-South Marlins, top Southern Division Club, and Newcastle Neptunes, the best from the north. Both clubs readily accepted.

The rules were as follows – the top ten from each club fished, with one diver from each club in each boat. The scores from each diver were totalled for the club’s result.

Plenty of hard work by Bob Searl ensured that everything was right, except for the weather, but even the strong southerly and rough seas did not dampen enthusiasm and friendly rivalry. It was good to see the Dolphins able to supply the ten boats required, but special thanks go to John Stone and Barry Heywood for taking their boats out even though they did not fish in the competition.

Scores were low due to the dirty water, but they were sufficient to cause excitement in the weigh – in ring as, with only George Davies and Jack Jones to weigh in, only nine points separated the Neptunes and Dolphins. The final result put the Dolphins in front by 23 points.

S.S.D.

 

N.N

 

M.S.M

 

1.   J. Black

78

1.  G.Budden

93

1.   R. Montcalm

31

2.   L. Austin

103

2.   R. Hatch

133

2.   G. McCauley

64

3.   A. Badger

96

3.   F. Swinkles

96

3.   D. Tinsley

-

4.   J. Waples

133

4.   J. Merlo

31

4.   B. Pauling

29

5.   J. Jones

67

5.   A. Nunn

33

5.   S. Isles

111

6.   P. O’Connor

-

6.   P. Gibson

31

6.   N. Leibeck

-

7.   B. Raison

73

7.   L. Siemek

109

7.   D. Skelton

44

8.   R. Searl

-

8.   P. Wilkinson

46

8.   P. Rourke

-

9.   P. Britton

50

9.   K. Lewis

31

9.   D. Pepper

10

10. S. Harvey

60

10. G. Davies

36

10. D. Birch

12

TOTAL

662

TOTAL

639

TOTAL

301

The most meritorious fish was a Black Reef Leatherjacket weighing 2lb. 4oz., scoring 46 points by John Waples and the biggest fish was a Mulloway of 21lbs. caught by Phil Gibson.

It is intended to make this an annual event. It is hoped that the top club of each division will compete for the perpetual shield which has been donated by the Dolphins.

(From Australian Skindivers Magazine November 1967)

Tragedy at Bendalong

1987 1st November

The running of the Southern Zone’s Taylor Shield Competition at Bendalong on the 1st November 1987 was unfortunately marred by a tragedy.

The day began as any other competition for the area with the promise of a great day despite some wind – blown choppiness at the start.

At approximately 11:00 AM an unattended float was observed at Berrara Reef by the crews of Gary Allen’s and Bob Crook’s boats. On inspection it was found to belong to Emmanuel Mifsud.

In the ensuing search it was his brother George that eventually found Emmanuel on the bottom. Out of respect for Emmanuel the competition was cancelled and all competitors were informed as they returned to the venue.

Emmanuel leaves behind his parents and two younger brothers, George and David. He was an energetic person who threw himself wholeheartedly into anything he believed in and in all sports in which he competed.

A tireless worker, having held positions within soccer and spearfishing circles, both locally and state-wide he will be sorely missed by all. His contributions to meetings and other events were always entertaining where he could be relied on to liven things up. His efforts behind the scenes at many events such as the 34th National Underwater Championships and numerous coaching courses will also cause his absence to be felt.

Emmanuel G. Mifsud: 31/5/1962 to 1/11/1987

Skindiver Dies in Championships

1962 23rd April

Newcastle, Sunday – A young experienced skindiver was drowned when competing in the Pacific Coast Spearfishing Championships at Broughton Island, near Newcastle.

The man, Kevin O’Sheehy, 23, of Villawood, Sydney was a diabetic. A doctor who attended him said he could have died while in an insulin coma.

(Canberra Times 23/4/1962 pg. 1.)

The first Australian Pacific Coast Spearfishing Championships

APCC 1960Promoted and run by the Newcastle Neptunes Underwater Club, the first Australian Pacific Coast Spearfishing Championships was held at Shoal Bay, Port Stephens over the Easter Long Weekend from 15th to 18th April 1960.

Fridays programme featured a mystery trio spearfishing event during the afternoon and whilst this event was in progress judging took place for the photographic competition. Friday night featured an Open Air Theatre screening of the winning slides followed by a showing of the film “The Silent World”. Best underwater transparency was won by Walt Deas with a magnificent photo of a Giant Groper. The mystery trio event, which was a novelty competition designed to get everyone used to the three man team event was won by Russ Smith, Newcastle Neptunes; J. Wynne, Canterbury Underwater Club, and G. Mathews, Western Sub-Mariners.

On Saturday 16th the Pat Helsham Trophy for the Premier Club of the Australian Pacific Coast was contested from 8am to 4pm. This competition was decided on the aggregate scores of the top eight competitors from each club. Most competitors fished Broughton Island but others fished as far south as Rocky Point. The day proved quite eventful and quite a few competitors encountered sharks.

The Neptunes became the Premier Club with a score of 4,268 points. Runner up club was St. George Sea Dragons with 3,440 points, followed by North Shore Sea Hawks with 2,551 points.

Just over 160 competitors signed-on and were limited to one fish of each species. Top scorers for the day were Allan Whitford, Newcastle Neptunes; Dave Rowlings, St. George and George Davies, Newcastle Neptunes, each with more than 20 varieties of fish.

A Cabaret was held at Shoal Bay Country Club on Saturday night with most competitors retiring early in preparation for the teams event the following day.

The sun shone brightly once again on Sunday and competitors were on their way at 8am sharp. Thousands of spectators crowded the control centre area as competitors raced back to deposit their fish in the weigh-in area by 4pm. The Premier 3 Man Team Trophy was won by Bill Lewis, Jack Evans and Jim Harper, all from ST. George Club with 1,566 points followed by the Sans Souci Dolphins team comprising Johnny Black, Brian Raison and J. Lock with 1,245 points.

Trophies were presented at the Country Club Hotel in the evening and a representative from Belmont Apex Club was presented with a cheque for seventy seven pounds, ten shillings and six pence, being the proceeds from the fish auctions held over the three days.

The closing competition held on Monday from 7am to 11am brought in some really good fish. The winner of the most meritorious fish prize was George Schulz of Newcastle Neptunes with a 66lb. 8oz. Kingfish.
The final days trophies were presented to the winners and so ended the first Australian Pacific Coast Spearfishing Championships.

The ‘Ming Diving Mask’

ming mask patent drawingFrank Cunliffe of Waverley NSW applied for a patent for a diving mask in June of 1941, ‘for use for short periods by trochus, pearl and beche de mer divers and also for use in fish spearing and generally seeing underwater as in the location of submerged objects’. The patent was granted on 7th April 1942 (Australian Patent No 114,992).

According to the patent document ‘This invention has been specifically devised to provide a simple and handy diving mask which is adapted to be slipped in place on the face and covers an area thereof embracing the eyes and nose and is suited for seeing things underwater in a clear and comfortable manner as long as the diver can stay down without breathing, also it is of cheap and durable construction’.

Frank Cunliffe became interested in diving after seeing a youth wearing diving goggles, which he borrowed and tried out. He experimented with goggles and finally made a single lens mask which covered the eyes and nose and gave something like normal vision underwater. He began spearfishing in 1940 and tried out many different speargun designs before settling on a successful model, which he also patented. He began making sets of spearfishing equipment consisting of a mask, weight belt and speargun which he sold for six pounds and ten shillings.

Victoria vs New South Wales – Interstate Spearfishing Competition

Vic Ver NSW R.MontcalmAfter nearly 10 months of planning, the first official Victoria versus New South Wales Interstate Spearfishing Competition took place at Eden on the Far South Coast of New South Wales over the Queen’s Birthday weekend in June of 1967.

Over 200 skindivers and their families from as far away as Avoca and Warrnambool in the Western Districts of Victoria and Canberra and Sydney arrived at Eden for the weekend.

Most of Saturday was spent looking over the fishing areas and preparing for the big competition.

On the Saturday night at Eden’s “Hotel Australasia” had never had such a packed beer garden in its history and I think that also went for the Hotel Eden and the Eden Fishermen’s Club.

Ross Page, of Port Hacking, Sydney, was on the loudspeaker bright and early on Sunday morning and pretty soon the camping ground was a hive of activity. Just before the word “go” was given at 8:30 a.m., we noted the sign on was 198 competitors, one of the best sign-ons for a spearfishing competition for the last couple of years. And, just to make it an extra-successful weekend, two late sign-ons brought the total to 200.

At 8:30 a.m. sharp 200 skindivers raced to boats moored off the beach and to cars and were soon scattered over 60 miles of coastline.

At 2:30 began the massive task of weighing-in nearly 3,000lb. of fish. With two weigh-in areas going flat out this was not completed till 6:30 p.m. that night.

While this was going on the organisers were also flat out working out scores and allotting the 60-70 separate prizes.

On the Sunday night we had hired the Eden picture theatre and with two of Ron Taylor’s top underwater movies were due to start at 8:00 p.m. with the presentation of prizes at interval.

The films got underway around 8:30 and once again the old town was in for a shock. Nearly 300 people packed into the theatre and by 9:00 there was standing room only.

At interval the presentation of prizes got underway and it was noted that the individual winners all had fantastic scores. Open: Robin Montcalm, 663; Junior: Rick Baker, 605; Ladies: Robyn Page, 342.

Highlights of the evening were the announcement of The Most Meritorious Fish Overall with the prize of a “Tudor Oster U/W Watch”, donated by Angus & Coote of Sydney, and the drawing of the lucky sign-on number for which the prize was a “Nikonos U/W Camera”, donated by Maxwell Photo-Optics of Melbourne and Sydney. These prizes went to Doug Trinder of Mid-South Marlins and Allan Potter of Port Hacking Penguins in that order.

After the presentation of prizes, we all settled back to the second half of the programme.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank every skindiver who travelled to Eden to compete in the competition, plus everyone who helped with the organising, plus all the generous companies and people who donated the $1,000 worth of prizes.

Report by Barry Andrewartha (Marauders Club, Victoria), Australian Skindivers Magazine July, 1967 Pg.17

Spearfishing and the USFA – NSW’s Pioneering Years

Bill Heffernan 1949 - NSW’s Pioneering Years
Bill Heffernan in a Sladen Suit and Salvus Oxygen Re-Breather taken in April of 1948 during the meeting to form the USFA in NSW’s Pioneering Years.

Indigenous Australians were skilled at spearing fish from above the water surface and ventured underwater while breathing through hollow reeds to capture water birds and turtles, but it was not until 1917 that spearfishing as we know it was introduced to Sydney by Alick Wickham. NSW’s Pioneering Years.

Alick Wickham was the son of Frank Wickham, an English sea trader who in 1875 had settled in the Solomon Islands after being shipwrecked. Frank settled on the Island of Hopeka, managing a Copra plantation. Alick’s mother was a Melanesian from the nearby settlement of Munda on the shores of Roviana lagoon.

Pacific Islanders had developed their breathhold diving skills over many centuries and certainly were spearing fish underwater long before Europeans. It is fitting therefore that our first record of spearfishing in Sydney Harbour was from a young man who was born in the Solomon’s. Alick gained fame as the person who introduced the swimming stroke which became known as the Australian Crawl and in 1918 attained international fame with a 62.7 metre world record high dive from a cliff-top tower in to the Yarra River, 6 metres higher than the roadway of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Alick remained in Sydney until 1926 when he returned to Roviana Lagoon following the death of his father.

In 1920 when Bill Heffernan was 12 years of age and living at Tamworth he began to look under the water in the Peel River. After making a spear by inserting a sharpened piece of fencing wire into a wooden stick he was successful in spearing his first fish, a catfish. Bill pioneered spearfishing around the Tuggerah Lakes entrance area commencing in 1940 and was also a designer and manufacturer of spearfishing equipment.

During 1926 16 year old Denny (David Denzel) Wells began diving around the rocky shores of Sydney Harbour wearing a pair of goggles. These were soon discarded and goggles with a single faceplate made. Upon finding that he suffered from eye squeeze a facemask was designed which incorporated a space for the nose.

Denny was very inventive, designing and making all of his spearfishing equipment. Denny was responsible for the design of the speargun trigger mechanism that is still in use in the “Undersee” range of spearguns today. It has been widely copied throughout the world.

By the time of the great depression during the 1930’s Denny had married and his wife May took up spearfishing which provided a valuable supplemental food source during this difficult time. May has the honour of being the first female spearfisher in this country.

By 1940 other spearfishers had arrived on the scene. Frank Cunliffe became interested in diving after seeing a youth wearing diving goggles. He experimented with them and finally made a single lens mask which covered the eyes and nose and gave something like normal vision underwater. He began spearfishing in 1940, spearing his first fish at Lake Conjola on the 17th March 1940. From Frank’s notes “My first catch by new method of fishing. I have a 4ft. By ¼ inch steel spear which is fired by means of a catapult arrangement. The spear can be fired about 20 feet through the water but to use it I dive down and sneak up to within 3 feet of a fish before firing. I have a greenhide belt containing 9 lbs. of lead to facilitate the ‘sneaking’ upon the fish. I can get quite close by avoiding sudden movements”.

Frank tried many different speargun designs before settling on a successful design. He applied for a patent for this and a diving mask during 1941 with the patents being granted in 1942. He began making sets of spearfishing equipment consisting of mask, weight belt and speargun which he sold for six pounds and ten shillings under the name of the “Ming” speargun outfit.

Dick Charles had become interested in spearfishing in about 1937. Using an old mirror with the silver scraped off and fitted into an old tyre tube he made his first mask and ‘opened up an entirely new world’. For a spear he bought some shark hooks, straightened them out and fixed them to an eight feet piece of wood. Dick was a convincing salesman who would try his hand at anything and had established a motor trading business in Hurstville in 1924 and also built and sold caravans.

Goff Gapp and Keith Vagg, boyhood friends had become interested in diving when seeing a party of Solomon Islanders spearfishing off Bondi during 1936, however success eluded them until one day in 1942 they saw a face mask made from a jam tin and inner tube for the first time. They made a spear from a six foot length of hardwood with a knitting needle set in one end and were finally successful in hitting, but not catching, their first fish in Clovelly Pool.

During the Second World War many servicemen had experienced duty in the Pacific Islands and had seen and been taught to spearfish by the Islanders. One such person was Don Linklater. Don had seen action on many fronts before being promoted to Lieutenant and given command of a company from the Torres Straight Light Infantry Battalion. It was in Torres Straight he was taught to dive by the Islanders and discovered an intense passion for the underwater world which was to become so much a part of his life.

In 1947 Don commenced manufacturing skindiving equipment from his Bondi home with his first product advertised as the Undersee Swimmers Mask, leading to a complaint of patent infringement by Frank Cunliffe. In December of 1949 his first speargun, the Loxin was introduced at a price of Six Pounds Ten Shillings. This speargun was so named due to its unique trigger mechanism which enabled the spear to be ‘locked’ in place.

In these early days, before the advent of flippers and snorkels, individual spearfishers were unknown to each other, developing and making their own equipment, gaining ideas from the limited publications dealing with the sport. An article in the July 1939 issue of Popular Science Magazine entitled “Human Submarine Shoots Fish with Arrows” had attracted the interest of George Davies who, with his brother Trevor, had ventured in to the shallow waters of Lake Macquarie during 1946.

Another, Jim Linquist had gained his knowledge of spearfishing during the war and upon his return to Cudgen made his own equipment and began spearfishing in the Tweed River. His spear consisted of a broom handle with a fire poker that had been sharpened to a point fastened to one end. He soon began to attract a large audience whenever he entered the water. In one session he speared 135 Luderick in less than 3 hours establishing a formidable record.

Following the 2nd World War the number of spearfishermen started to grow, and so too did the antagonism between anglers and speargunners (as they were then known).

Protest letters were being sent to the Chief Secretary’s Department and letters to daily papers calling for the banning of the sport. Finally during 1947 an incident occurred which formed the catalyst for spearfishers to band together and form the USFA.

Dick Charles and Bill Heffernan were spearfishing in the channel at the entrance to Tuggerah Lakes and had speared a few fish when they heard a Sergeant of Police calling out to them to get out of the water.  They were told they were to be arrested and to get dressed and accompany him to the Police Station. They argued there was no law to say they could not go in the water and spear fish. After much argument on both sides the old sergeant was not too sure of whether he was coming or going and in the end away he went without carrying through with his threat.

At this time they only knew two or three other spearfishers, but both agreed the only thing to do was to form an association to protect the rights of spearfishers. The problem was how to get in touch with others who were interested.

Dick had a thought that the newspapers would print anything and ‘phoned the chief-of-staff of the Sydney Morning Herald telling him that a meeting had been called for all those who were interested in spearfishing, to be held at 3 pm at Long Reef on April 4, 1948 and afterwards there would be a mass dive by over 100 spearfishermen. The Sydney Morning Herald ran this as a front page article.

When the appointed day arrived it was cold and raining. An early arrival saw the setting up of a table and a large Calico sign. Lunchtime came and it was still raining and cold and no one had arrived and they were getting a little worried.  About an hour later cars started to arrive, then more and more and they were flat out answering questions and taking names and addresses.

By 3 o’clock there were hundreds of people there and Dick Charles arose to address the crowd. He explained why they would have to form an association and band together if they wanted to continue spearfishing. It was a case of “united we survive, divided we fall”.

Amongst others to speak at the meeting were Bill Heffernan, Frank Cunliffe and Les Hawley. It was decided that the association be formed. Dick Charles was elected as president, Frank Cunliffe and Bill Heffernan as Vice Presidents and Less Hawley Secretary/Treasurer and a committee of 15 appointed. Thirty two signed up as members and the association was on its way.

The meeting then closed and about 50 men went into the shark infested waters, giving the press a field day with a few fish and a large ray being speared. Bill Heffernan stole the show by dressing in a World War two vintage shallow water diving suit. The public had never seen anything like this before and photo’s featured prominently in the following day’s news.

The first committee meeting for drafting rules and getting things underway was held at Dick Charles house at Hurstville the following week.

The “Aquamatic” an Historic Australian Speargun from the 1940’s

Aquamatic DiagramAquamatic DiagramThe brothers, George and Trevor Davies, pioneered spearfishing in the Newcastle area taking up the sport in 1946. They were certainly talented and inventive. They made facemasks from car tyre inner tubes, started the Newcastle Neptune’s Spearfishing Club, made one of Australia’s first Scuba sets and designed the Aquamatic speargun.

On new years eve of 1960 Trevor was killed in a tragic accident when, whilst filling a cylinder with air, a water trap on the compressor exploded, spraying jagged fragments of metal over a wide area.

Trevor was the inventor and designer, George the engineer. They experimented with several speargun designs and during 1948 the design principles of the Aquamatic were conceived by Trevor and then further refined by George during the next five years.

Over this period every spare minute of the brother’s spare time was put to use with exhaustively testing and refining the gun, experimenting with it until George was satisfied, proclaiming “This speargun is, without fear of contradiction, the most powerful in the world”.

The first Aquamatics produced had a two inch diameter cylinder with a one inch bore and when charged to 359 PSI of pressure contained 45 cubic inches of compressed air. Later the cylinder was changed to one made of stainless steel, one inch in diameter with a one half inch bore. This cylinder, when fully compressed by the spear contained about 1800 PSI.

The gun has an overall length of twenty two inches, with the barrel extending eighteen inches behind the handle. The gun’s barrel was made to take any one of three spear shaft sizes of either five sixteenths of an inch, three eighths of an inch or seven sixteenths of an inch in diameter. Spears were usually 54 inches (four and one half feet) long with 23 loading notches.

To load the gun the trigger is depressed and the spear, with notches facing upward, is pushed into the barrel until it contacts the piston. The lever is then raised and lowered with a pawl engaging the notches and using a ratchet action forces the spear into the cylinder.

The nose of the aquamatic has a line discharge attachment clamped to it. The line is attached to the spear and wound around the rear movable arm and forward to the fixed arm. This is repeated several times with the other end of the line terminating at a reel.

The air in the cylinder lasts indefinitely. The gun has been used continuously for twelve months without any loss of pressure. When fired there is no explosion underwater and no discharge of bubbles as in a CO2 gun. It has tremendous power, propelling a spear for 350 ft out of the water. Its spear, with the head removed, can penetrate two inches of seasoned hardwood.

George considered the main essentials for a speargun were power, accuracy, manoeuvrability, balance, reliability and durability and believed the Aquamatic encompassed all of these traits.

Fifty to sixty Aquamatics were made, with most being sold in and around the Newcastle area. Dick Charles, the founder of the USFA bought one and one was sent to America, however it was never paid for, the purchaser denying ever receiving it. Later a similar gun was produced and sold in the USA as the “Airmatic”.

Alec ‘Curly’ Alliman

The Sydney Metropolitan Zone’s Alliman Shield competition is named in honour of Alec 'Curly' Alliman.

Curly Alliman, the 1955 NSW Spearfishing Champion, was attending the USFA outing at Malabar on March 11th 1956 and while wearing Scuba was walking up the hill behind the Anzac Rifle Range when he collapsed and died of a heart attack. He was only 26 and had recently passed a medical prior to enlisting in the army.

The following tribute was published in the Australian Skindiving and Spearfishing Digest:-

IN MEMORIAM

Ben Cropp (Left) with Alec 'Curly' Alliman (Right)
Ben Cropp (Left) with Alec 'Curly' Alliman (Right)

Curly Alliman (Right) with Ben Cropp (Left)

Whatever our colour, creed or sport, somewhere, sometime we must all leave this world. That is inevitable.

When a man reaches his six score and 10 he is prepared to go, but when it strikes a healthy, happy-go-lucky club mate of 26, there seems a tragic waste. “Curly” Alliman was a club mate in every respect of the word, a good spearman and aqualunger, ready to lend a hand when work was to be done.

Always smiling, Curly’s passing is a big loss to his friends and club.

The first heat for the “Curly” Alliman Memorial Trophy was held on Sunday 8th July 1956 at Bilgola.

It attracted 64 entries with all clubs represented, but with only three feet visibility only four fish were weighed-in, two small groper, one drummer and a Sergeant Baker.

The newly formed St. George club was declared the winner with D. Rowlands 1st with 20 points and N. Shaw 2nd with 6 points.

A meeting following the weigh in confirmed the following rules to apply for future Alliman Trophy competitions:-

  1. Staring time shall be from 10AM – finishing time 2PM.
  2. That the next seven monthly meetings will be conducted by the Branch Club’s Captains, who with their committees, will set down the programme for the day and attend to all amenities etc.
    The August Day Outing will be in the hands of “Parramatta”.
  3. Boundaries. No boundaries for monthly competitions, except State Championships.

Dick Charles – Founder & first president of the USFA

Australian Junior Spearfishing Champion Gary Hunter and Dick Charles Tallebudgera Qld 1958 - Image supplied by Ron Taylor
Australian Junior Spearfishing Champion Gary Hunter and Dick Charles Tallebudgera Qld 1958 - Image supplied by Ron Taylor

With his ever present yachting cap perched jauntily atop his balding head, burly 5 feet 11 inches tall, hazel – eyed Dick Charles was an imposing larger than life character.

Richard Stanley (Dick) Charles was the youngest son of Laura and Edward, a master builder and was born in England at Moseley Worcester on April 23rd 1901. The family moved to Canada and Mexico before settling in Hobart during 1913. Dick was successful in obtaining an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner with the IXL Jam and Sauce company and went on to become an aircraft mechanic, being employed as a ground engineer with the Australian Aircraft Engineering Co. at Mascot, obtaining licence no. 15. During 1923 he married Ruth Kelly and in 1924 they moved to Hurstville where he established a motor trading business.

In 1927 he was a founder of the St. George Motor Boat Club. Having a need for speed he built his own boat which he named the 'Eagle'. Powered by a 360 hp Rolls Royce aircraft motor it could attain a speed of 89 mph and for a time held the record as the fastest boat in Australia.

In 1937 he began to manufacture and sell caravans from premises in McEvoy street Alexandria. Named the “Charlavan” it was Australia’s first pop – top van (Australian patent no. 3587) and was produced in 3 models, the Charlavan Junior for 67 pounds, the Charlavan Senior for 95 pounds and the Charlavan Senior Deluxe for 120 pounds.

During World War 2 he joined the National Emergency Service and became chief instructor at the Hurstville branch. He heard that the Australian Government was looking for inventions to assist the war effort, so he invented a special pulley system which was used for carrying injured soldiers down the Owen-Stanley Ranges of New Guinea.

Dick Charles1

During his time with the NES he was informed that Vaucluse Council was in need of cliff rescue apparatus to be used by the Police Rescue Squad to retrieve bodies from the bottom of the Gap.

He drew up plans for a system and was asked to construct it which he did, building it at Hurstville. It was found to be satisfactory and put into use. The apparatus was later improved by Hurstville Council Engineer, Mr. Webster.

It was during 1937 while on a camping holiday to Lake Conjola that Dick’s interest in spearfishing was born. He described it in these words:

I had been out hand fishing in my 10ft dinghy. Coming into the bank, I could see fish darting all over the place – mostly blackfish. On impulse, I got into the water, but as every skin diver knows, you can't see much with the naked eye.

This set me thinking; you can see alright when you look through the sides of a fish tank, so if you looked through a piece of glass, kept water out of your eyes, you should be able to see under water.

You know what it’s like when you're away camping, fellas! Something new gets into your bonnet and you can't rest until you try it out.

Dick Charles2By using a round piece of glass, in fact an old mirror with the silver scraped off, fitted into an old tyre tube, I made my first mask and, at the same time opened up an entirely new world to me. I bet all of you got a great thrill out of your first sight underwater! I know I did.

There were all the big niggers swimming about, getting me excited. I grabbed an oar from the boat and tried to stun one underwater. How silly can you get!

Next, I sharpened a six feet stick and prodded at them. I actually hit one, to my amazement, but didn't get it.

We were due at Burrill Lakes the next day, so we packed our gear and, on the way down, I bought some shark hooks, straightened them out and fixed them on an eight feet piece of wood. There were always plenty of fish under the bridge at Burrill, so I went down after them. I got one or two, but it was always a job to stay down because I was too buoyant”.

Dave Rowling described Dicks first attempt at breathing underwater “Snorkels were unheard of and Dick tried one memorable day at Minnamurra to put a full face contraption on with an air hose attached to a free floating 4 gallon kerosene tin and with a typical ‘she’s apples fellas’ jumped off Minnamurra rail bridge.

It was after that day he became aware it is impossible to suck air down 12 to 15 feet underwater. With 30lb. lead round the middle and safety catches completely unheard of, it was a very bulgy – eyed, purple faced Dick some two minutes later who clawed himself to the mangrove edges'.Dick Charles3

At the time Dick began spearfishing there were very few others, but as the numbers slowly grew, so did the complaints and harassment. The angling clubs were up against us and everywhere they went spearfishers were met with a hostile attitude. Finally the last straw came when Dick Charles and Bill Heffernan were spearfishing in the channel at the entrance to Tuggerah Lakes. Hearing a loud voice yelling at them they looked up to find it was the local sergeant of police telling them to get out. They were then told they were being arrested and to get dressed before being taken to the police station. Then the arguments started. Why were they being arrested? Where was the law to say they could not go in the water? Where was the law that they could not spear fish? After quite a lot of argument on both sides the old sergeant didn’t know if he was coming or going and in the end away he went.

The pair then agreed they will have to do something or they will be stopped altogether and the only thing to do would be to form an association to regulate the sport properly and to protect our rights. At the time they only knew two or three other spearfishermen between them.

On going home Dick pondered the situation and then ‘phoned the chief of staff of one of the Sunday papers and told him that a meeting had been called for all those who were interested in spearfishing to be held at 3 pm at Long Reef on April 4, 1948, for the purpose of forming an association. Afterwards there would be a mass dive of over 100 spearmen. The newspaper gave the story a run on their front page.

When the day arrived it was cold and showery and Dick remarked “it’ll be a bit funny if no one turns up”. They arrived early and set up a table and erected a calico sign. Lunch time came and went and it was still raining and no one had turned up. About an hour later cars began to arrive and then more and more cars. By three O'clock there were hundreds of people there and Dick got up and addressed the crowd, telling them why we would have to form an association and band together if we wanted to continue spearfishing. It was a case of “United we survive ... divided we fall.”

After a few others spoke it was decided to form the association with Dick Charles being elected the president, Frank Cunliffe and Bill Heffernan vice presidents and Les Hawley Secretary-treasurer. A committee of 15 was also appointed. The meeting was then closed so that about 50 men could brave the shark infested waters. Bill Heffernan created quite a bit of interest with a shallow water diving suit as the public had never seen anything like this before, a large ray was speared and the news boys were having a field day. Everyone had a good time, the association was off to a good start and the newspapers played it up. Dick was well pleased with the way things turned out.

Dick Charles4Dick continued to guide the association through its formative years and was president from 1948 to 1953 when he organised the first Australian Spearfishing Championships at Tweed Heads that same year. He donated a perpetual trophy for the event and to this day it still attracts keen competition from Australia’s best.

During the championships Dick Charles chaired a meeting to form the USFA of Australia with representatives from other states. Dick was elected the first President and Dick Barton the first Secretary.

Also during 1953 concerned about the near drowning and tragic deaths of skindivers Dick announced at a USFA meeting that he was working on a device to make spearfishing safer.

Shortly afterwards tragedy struck when at Harbord on Saturday 5th September 1953 a very popular USFA member Merv Caulfield got into difficulties while spearfishing and lost his life. Two others also got into trouble while trying to assist and only just managed to make it to shore. Merv left behind a young wife and infant son.

By October Dick’s device was at the point of going into full production and an advertisement of the time announced “The Dick Charles Safety Belt has been specifically designed for all spearmen and anglers who at times are in danger of losing their lives. A pull of the trigger and you float to the surface. Easy to wear you don’t know you have it on. All belts fitted with shark repellent. The first 500 belts should be ready end of October”.

The Safety Belt was of plastic construction and worn around the waist. It was inflated by triggering a small CO2 cartridge and had a pocket that contained a shark repellent dye of copper sulphate.

During its production it was credited with saving 20 lives and assisting many more in difficulty. Worried about its plastic construction Dick discontinued production, but re-introduced it during 1960 this time made from “the best insertion rubber money can buy’.

Dick withdrew from active involvement after a few years, but always maintained his interest. He suffered a fatal heart attack in July of 1994 and was cremated at Woronora Crematorium.

His contribution will be long remembered.

USFA Rules & Regulations

USFA CONSTITUTION
This document governs how the USFA is run.

USFA CODE OF DISCIPLINE
This document sets out the expected behaviors of all USFA members.

USFA NSW SPEARFISHING COMPETITION PROCEDURES AND MINIMUM STANDARDS
This document details how competitions run under the auspice of the USFA must be run.

USFA Competition Rules
This document explain the specific rules that apply to competitions.

SCHEDULE OF FEES
This document outlines the fees associated with items detailed in the Constitution.

The Guide to Spearfishing in New South Wales (58MB).pdf
This document is a comprehensive guide to Spearfishing compiled by the USFA.

USFA Constitution – August 2009

Parts of the Constitution

  1. The Constitution Proper
  2. Rules of Competition
  3. Spearfishing Competition Procedures and Minimum Standards
  4. Code of Conduct
  5. Code of Discipline

Attachments

1. USFA Schedule of Fees

Abbreviations used in this document

USFA: The Underwater Skindivers and Fishermen’s Association
AUF(S): The Australian Underwater Federation – Spearfishing
AGM: The Annual General Meeting of the USFA ASAP: - As soon as possible Club: -Shall infer USFA Affiliated Committee: -USFA Committee (the Executive plus one Member per Club) Executive: -USFA Executive as per TABLE 1 (any position cited shall infer USFA. E.g. Secretary = USFA Secretary)
EFT: Electronic Funds Transfer
Member: Member of the USFA via an Affiliated Club or directly
Meeting: General Meeting of the USFA Committee
NSW: New South Wales
Sport: The sport of skindiving
Sub-committee: USFA Sub-committee (appointed by the Committee)

USFA Constitution Proper

1. Association Name The Underwater Skindivers and Fishermen’s Association

2. Office The Office of the USFA will be determined by the USFA Committee

3. Aims and Objectives

(a) To promote and develop the sport and other associated underwater activities
(b) To actively implement and promote any and all safety measures applicable to our activities
(c) To organise and control any relevant activities within NSW
(d) To provide an organisation which can represent the interests of its Affiliated Clubs and their members to the AUF(S), Government, and Regulatory Authorities
(e) To establish, promote or assist in the subscription to, or becoming a member of any organisation whose objects are similar to, or in any part are similar to the objects of the USFA and beneficial to the USFA
(f) To arrange competitions, conventions, conferences, symposiums, expositions and the like for the members of the USFA and to provide or arrange for prizes, trophies and awards
(g) To obtain any acts or legislature, provisional order or other official or Government power or authority licence which may be deemed requisite to the USFA, and to act in opposing any acts or legislature, provisional order or any other official or unofficial power of authority there by Government or any other group or organisation which may be deemed to be against the interests of the USFA or the sport
(h) To encourage the uniformity of rules, regulations, codes of conduct, standards and administrative controls of the sport in NSW
(i) To purchase, lease or acquire any lands, buildings, easements or properties (real or personal), which may be requisite to the purpose of any of the objects of the USFA
(j) To accept subscriptions, donations or bequests (whether real or personal estate) for all or any of the objects of the USFA
(k) To regularly publish and distribute an informative journal and to forward any relevant material received pertaining to the sport

4. Changes to the Constitution

(a) The Constitution of the USFA may be altered or changed by Special Resolution and ratified at the AGM or an Extraordinary Meeting of the Committee, subject to the other provisions of this section. Note: The Committee, by definition, signifies the Executive and one Representative from each Affiliated Club, who shall carry the voting power of his Club after consultation with all of its members. The rules covered in Sections 16, 17, 18 & 19 shall be strictly adhered to in the deliberation and final voting on any such alterations.
(b) All proposed amendments or alterations shall be delivered in writing or electronically, by the Secretary or his nominee, to the nominated Club Representatives of all of the Clubs and to the Executive, not less than 30 days before the voting is to take place
(c) The Public Officer shall send all required documentation concerned with the alterations and lodge any Official Forms, accompanied by any associated fees, to the relevant Government Department within 7 days of the alterations being accepted by the USFA, and in the same time frame will inform the Club Representatives and Executive of all particulars
(d) The Secretary shall inform all Club Representatives and Executive within 7 days of receiving confirmation of alterations from the relevant Government Department upon which the alterations will be immediately adopted
(e) Any change to the USFA Constitution Proper requires at least 75% of the voting power of the USFA, as set out in Section 19 below, to be in favour of the alterations proposed in order to be carried.
(f) The Executive may make, alter or repeal any part of the Constitution, except the Constitution Proper, at any time, provided notice of any change is given to all Clubs and Executive within 14 days of the proposed date of change, after which time the changes shall take immediate effect.

5. Club Affiliation

(a) Any Club or Group associated with any form of underwater activity shall have its application of Affiliation considered by the Committee, provided that the Club or Group satisfies the following conditions:

i. The Club or Group’s Constitution is presented to and approved by the USFA
ii. It’s predecessor’s Constitution, i.e. a Club’s Zone, is presented to and accepted by the USFA
iii. The Club or Group agrees to abide by the Constitution of the USFA iv. The Club or Group pays in advance the registration fee as outlined in the “USFA Schedule of Fees” v. The Club or Group Nominates a Club Representative.

(b) All Clubs shall pay an annual Affiliation Fee as outlined in the “USFA Schedule of Fees”.
(c) Each member of a Club shall pay an annual Member’s Affiliation Fee (as outlined in the “USFA Schedule of Fees”) through their Club to the USFA. It shall be part of their Club Membership and shall not be an optional amount.
(d) Notice of Annual Affiliation Fees payable by the Clubs and their members shall be sent prior to the conclusion of the financial year. All Clubs and members must ensure that Affiliation Fees are paid within 30 days of the expiry date. Failure to do so will result in the Club or member being deemed unfinancial. All Fees become due on July 1st of each year.
(e) Any Club which becomes unfinancial shall no longer partake in the privileges of membership and nor will its members.
(f) In the event a Club remains unfinancial for more than 30 days after the serving of a notice by the Membership Officer, it shall be struck off the list of USFA Affiliated Clubs.
(g) A rejoining Fee as outlined in the “USFA Schedule of Fees” may be demanded by the Committee.
(h) All Clubs shall accept full responsibility for the actions of their members and shall undertake to administer any penalties or controls as deemed appropriate by the USFA.
(i) Should any Affiliated Club fail to abide by the Constitution, its affiliation may be suspended by the Committee.
(j) Acceptance of the USFA Constitution implies acceptance of all sections and parts of the USFA Constitution.
(k) Conditions relating to payment of annual Individual Member’s Affiliation Fees will be the same as those relating to members of Clubs, except that their fees will be paid directly to the Membership Officer. Failure to pay their fees as set out in Section 5. Part (d) above, will result in action as in Section 5. Parts (e), (f) & (g) above, but pertaining to an Individual Member. (l) Clubs must attend a Committee meeting when a meeting is deemed to be sufficiently important to be rated as compulsory. This may be accomplished by either sending a representative in person or by an electronic link-up.
(m) Notwithstanding the above, all meeting minutes forwarded to the Club Representatives will be replied to in the form of a willingness to accept the outcomes of those meetings, or a report tendered on the issues arising from the minutes. These may be offered as agenda for the following meeting at the discretion of the Committee present at the original meeting.
(n) Non-compliance with Parts (l) & (m) of this section (above) may result in a fine or suspension of Affiliation at the discretion of the Committee.
(o) The Club’s Representative must:
i. Forward to each of his Club’s members all correspondence received from the USFA
ii. Organise a reply to the USFA when required
iii. Organise any member’s voting on any issues tendered by the USFA
iv. Report back to the USFA on any voting results
v. Forward any issues his Club or any of its members may have
vi. Organise any submissions the USFA may have to supply to any authorities from time to time

6. Membership

(a) The Membership categories are as follows:
i. Full Membership: e.g. Senior, Lady or Junior
ii. Honorary Full Membership: e.g. Patrons of the sport; non-competing office bearers or volunteer helpers
iii. Individual: e.g. Social or Independent
iv. Life Membership

(b) Clarification and Eligibility Criteria of Membership Categories:
i. Any person who is a registered financial member of a registered financial Club. Membership shall be unlimited subject to the Committee’s right to reject any application for membership without any reason being given. The applicant’s Club will be informed of the reason for rejection within 7 days of the refusal.
ii. The Executive may approve Honorary Full Membership, at its discretion, in cases such as a new member offer, a prominent individual’s efforts in promoting the sport or non-competing Office bearers and volunteer helpers.
iii. An individual may make application directly to the Membership Officer via the Membership Application Form. All rights and obligations as for a Full Member, and as defined in this Constitution, apply.
iv. Any person rendering special or important service to the USFA may be nominated for Life Membership. Nominations shall come from the Clubs to the Secretary 30 days prior to the AGM. The nomination shall give a full account of the nominee’s activities in sufficient depth for adequate consideration to be given by the Committee. A nominee will be accepted as a Life Member if a 66% majority of the USFA’s total voting power is in favour. A Life Member shall pay no USFA Affiliation Fees and no Club Membership Fees.

7. Patron

(a) Nominations from Members or Clubs for the position of Patron of the USFA shall be considered by the Committee at the AGM.
(b) A patron is a person of note who may or may not be a member of the USFA and has performed functions or delivered statements which have brought repute to the USFA.
(c) This position is purely Honorary but will be in keeping with the dignity of the USFA.

8. Rights of USFA Membership

(a) Subject to the provisions of this Constitution and the regulations set up from time to time, every Member shall be entitled to use all premises and facilities of the USFA, and to participate in any activity, competition or event conducted by, or under the auspices of, the USFA.
(b) Every Member is eligible to contest any election into any Position of Office in the USFA.
(c) Every Member shall be entitled to add agenda to any proposed meeting of the USFA within the specified timeframe, attend any meeting of the USFA, and may address any meeting of the USFA with the permission of the Chairman.
(d) Every Member is entitled to view any records of business, or otherwise, of the USFA by appointment with the Secretary of the USFA.

9. Rights of USFA Affiliated Clubs

(a) Each Club, provided all other conditions contained herein are satisfied, shall be entitled to vote on matters determined at any General Meeting or Extraordinary Meeting of the USFA, or any Special Resolutions offered.
(b) As per Section 8. Parts (a), (c) & (d) above

10. Structure of the USFA

(a) The administration, control and direction of the USFA shall be the responsibility of the Executive, except during the course of General Meetings, Extraordinary Meetings, and an AGM at which the Committee presides, and whilst dealing with any Special Resolutions.
(b) The Executive will consist of all position holders as detailed in TABLE 1.
(c) The Committee shall consist of the Executive and one representative from each financial Club.
(d) The Committee may, at any time, appoint or delegate its powers to any Sub-committee and may regulate and determine the procedures and duties of such Sub-committee.
(e) The Executive may appoint persons to hold any positions in the USFA deemed necessary for the correct and efficient running of the USFA. Any duties related to, and any powers implied by such appointment will be circulated and clearly defined to the USFA Membership within 7 days of such appointment.

11. Authority and Responsibility of the Executive

(a) When the Committee is not in session, the Executive shall assume the general authority.
(b) The Executive may not take action that involves changes to: the Constitution Proper; any major policy; or any issues denoted as a Special Resolution without first advising all the Clubs of the intended action and being guided by the decisions of the Clubs, except as laid down in this Constitution.
(c) The Executive shall settle all and any disputes arising from any Clubs’ or their Zones’ interpretation of this Constitution. All decisions made shall be final.
(d) Directions from the Executive to the Clubs, their Members and their Zones are binding.
(e) The USFA Executive shall neither have authority over, nor be held responsible for the financial management of the Clubs or their Zones, except as laid down in this Constitution. (f) The Executive may, without prior warning, remove from Office any member of the Executive who: through misconduct, mismanagement or omission, fails to carry out their duties in a proper manner. The Executive may then appoint a person to hold that position temporarily until an election for that position takes place. Appeals outlined in Section 14 below.
(g) The Executive may, at any time, call upon any Club to account for its actions and may, if so decided, suspend the Club until an enquiry into its actions is satisfactorily completed.
(h) Any Club failing to account in full for its actions, or attempting to hinder the work of the USFA at any time, shall be considered contemptuous and be liable to imposition of a penalty or suspension as at the discretion of the Executive.
(i) The Executive must ratify any recommendations, public statements or business, submissions and the like, by any Member or Sub-committee before they are implemented as USFA Official.
(j) Each member of the Executive shall provide an Annual Report for the AGM electronically forwarded to the Secretary no later than 7 days before the meeting.
(k) If any member of the executive resigns before the AGM, they shall send a letter of resignation to the Secretary.
(l) The Chairman of the USFA may appoint a replacement until such time as an election may be held to fill the position.

12. Authority and Responsibility of the Committee

(a) The Committee shall assume the authority of the USFA, and the specific authority of the Executive, when it is in session.
(b) Any member of the Executive considered as failing to carry out his duties in a satisfactory manner by the remainder of the Executive and/or the Committee, or bringing by his actions, statements or otherwise, disrepute upon the USFA, shall be requested by the Executive or Committee to show acceptable reasons for his actions. Failure to respond to such a request in a satisfactory manner shall result in his removal from Office by the Committee.
(c) Any Committee member suspended under Part (b) above, or Section 11. Part (f) above, may appeal at the next Committee Meeting or by direct contact to all Clubs and each member of the Executive for deliberation.
(d) The Committee may impose any of the following penalties:

i. Temporary or permanent suspension of Affiliation
ii. Temporary or permanent suspension of a Member
iii. A fine as per “USFA Schedule of Fees”

13. Executive Positions and Responsibilities of Office

TABLE 1

POSITION 

JOB DESCRIPTION

Chairman
  • The chief Executive member and spokesman of the USFA -Authority to convene all meetings of the USFA
  • Preside at all meetings of the USFA, maintaining order and correct procedure -Authorise all statements for publication or public release in conjunction with the Secretary
  • Acting USFA representative at all official functions
  • Conduct himself in a manner to bring credit to the USFA
  • Motivate the Executive in a positive way and engender team spirit - Ensure that a culture of good governance exists within all record keeping, systems, processes, projects and financials of the USFA
  • May appoint a stand-in when required – usually, but not necessarily, the Deputy Chairman 
Deputy Chairman
  • Assist the Chairman as necessary
  • Stand-in for the Chairman when required
  • Be equally responsible for all duties of the Chairman
Secretary
  • Keep a true and accurate record of all business carried out by the USFA
  • Keep a true and accurate record of all policies of the USFA
  • Make any appropriate records available to any member
  • Confer with the Chairman in times of emergency -Conduct all general correspondence of the USFA
  • Ensure all communications are in keeping with the professional expectations and brand identity of the USFA.
  • Prepare the agenda and business for, and advertise all meetings of the USFA
  • Prepare, or have prepared, and distribute minutes of all meetings of the USFA -Compile an Annual Report of the activities of the USFA: usually for the AGM
  • Inform all Clubs of all relevant matters, protests, meetings, motions, disputes
Assistant Secretary
  • Assist the Secretary in all his duties.
  • Stand-in for the Secretary when necessary
Treasurer
  • Keep true audited books and accounts of the USFA’s financial affairs -Oversee all banking of the USFA’s monies
  • Be a signatory (one of at least two) on the USFA cheque account
  • Keep an accurate record of all payments of accounts and fees
  • Prepare a progressive report for meetings of the USFA and whenever required
  • Prepare a budget for the USFA as required
  • Register USFA Account signatories with the bank at the commencement of term
  • Advise or seek advice on any financial matter as required
Assistant Treasurer
  • Assist the Treasurer in all his duties
  • Stand-in for the Treasurer when necessary 
Membership Officer 
  • Maintain procedures for the attracting of new members
  • Maintain procedures for the renewal of memberships
  • Seek new improved methods for the above -Recognize the needs and implications of the expanding base of Independent divers
  • Collect and receipt all Membership fees and present to the Treasurer
  • Issue all Membership Cards 
Accreditation Officer incorporating Strategic Planning
  • Pursue short and long-term activities that support the implementation and ongoing effectiveness of a self-regulating diver accreditation scheme for USFA Members and potentially others within the spearfishing community
  • Provide strategic support to related initiatives Strategic Planning
  • As part of a Committee assist in setting the direction and mission of the USFA in light of virulent competitive forces and emerging threats
  • Identify and workshop strategic issues through a forum that augments the objectives of the Executive
  • Discuss current or prospective issues and assist in the formulation of relevant action plans
  • Report to the USFA Executive
 Sports Secretary
  • Keep a record of results of all USFA, AUF(S) and CMAS skin diving Championships and Competitions
  • Keep a record of all past and present holders of perpetual trophies
  • Keep a list of trophy donors
  • Keep a record of the Competition history of the USFA
  • Recall all perpetual trophies before the following year’s event
  • The transport, cleaning, repair and engraving of all perpetual trophies
  • The receiving of nominations and applications for any perpetual USFA award
  • The submission of the preceding to the USFA Committee for evaluation
Website Manager
  • Organize material into a logical layout -Monitor and regularly update the website
  • Source interesting material
  • Arrange for approved material to be posted as required
  • Ensure the website remains functional
  • Continually improve ways to attract & hold the interest of relevant audiences
USFA Magazine Officer
  • Source and organize material
  • Edit and produce the magazine on a quarterly basis
  • Ensure all material is fit for distribution or approved by the Executive
  • Distribution of the finished article
Fundraising Officer
  • Actively seek fundraising opportunities
  • Identify where funds are needed
  • Organize the event via suitable means such as advertising, crew selection, sourcing of necessary equipment and location, etc
  • Collection and accounting of all monies and delivering to the Treasurer
Grants Coordinator
  • Keep informed of available Government Grants
  • Identify projects which require funding
  • Enlist reliable personnel to carry out the task involved
  • Make applications
  • Monitor the implementation of the task making sure it remains on track and within the stipulated contract
  • Provide relevant assistance to project officers engaged in assignments
  • Deliver any required reports
Historical Officer
  • Keep all historical records of the USFA
  • Research historical data as required by the USFA for certain events or occasions
  • Inform the Executive in advance of any key historic milestones 
Public Affairs Officer
  • Respond to any adverse issues directly concerning the USFA
  • Respond to any adverse publicity directed at the USFA or any of its members
  • Confer with the USFA Executive before making any response or action
  • Provide assistance to officers requiring assistance on PR related matters
  • Act on opportunities with potential for positive publicity or outcomes
Education Officer 
  • Provide literature and tuition to members or prospective members
  • Source appropriate and interesting material to facilitate the above
  • To advise Club officials on the setting up and running of a Club educational program that covers all aspects of safety and the indoctrination of new members
  • Report material and proposed delivery methods to the USFA 
Recognized Training Officer
  • Organize the training of members or prospective members via accredited tutors and instructors
  • Organize accreditation of members as trainers
  • Report proposed training schemes to the USFA
Spearfishing Records Officer
  • Keep a complete up-to-date list of all record sized speared fish
  • Be totally responsible for liaison between Members, Clubs, USFA, AUF(S) and CMAS on matters concerning records
  • Make available to Members the correct procedure for claiming a record
  • Process any record applications promptly, professionally and with diplomacy
Data and Research Officer
  • Collection of competition data
  • Scientific assessment of competition data
  • Writing of any appropriate reports
  • Scan for research relevant to USFA and source as necessary
  • Report all results to the USFA for assessment prior to any other use
 Endangered Species Officer
  •  Proactively liaise with relevant regulatory bodies
  • Scientific assessment of endangered and protected species
  • Submit any reports to the USFA prior to any other use
  • Keep members informed of any changes in regulations 
 Environment Officer Advisory Council Liaison Officer   -Identify and keep records on all Advisory Councils -Identify any which require USFA representation -Lobby to Facilitate USFA representation - Ensure USFA representation is maintained -Source and assess suitable candidates
Marine Parks Liaison Officer (Far North): from QLD border to Port Macquarie
  •  Keep all records on Marine Parks -Seek involvement in any review processes
  • Organize meetings with the MPA
  • Organize submissions when required -Keep the USFA fully informed at all times
Marine Parks Liaison Officer (North): from Port Macquarie to Gosford 
  • AS ABOVE
Marine Parks Liaison Officer (Central): from Gosford to Shoalhaven Heads 
  • AS ABOVE
Marine Parks Liaison Officer (South): from Shoalhaven Heads to VIC border 
  • AS ABOVE
Public Officer
  • Lodge all appropriate USFA documentation and records with the relevant Government Department
Members Liaison Officer 
  • Maintain direct contact with the nominated Club representative of each Club
  • Ensure that any important correspondence from the USFA has been received
  • Ensure that the nominated Club representative reports to all his members
  • Ensure that any task required by the USFA is completed by the Clubs
  • Report all outcomes to the USFA

 

14. Appeals

(a) Any Club which has disciplinary action taken against it or any of its members may appeal to all Clubs and the Executive within 30 days of imposition of penalty, and with the prescribed bond as outlined in “USFA Schedule of Fees”.
(b) Clubs shall have the option of appealing for their members or not: at their discretion.
(c) All correspondence pertaining to appeals, suspensions and voting shall be deemed as “A” Class correspondence.

15. Committee Meetings

(a) The Committee shall meet at least 4 times a year including the AGM.
(b) The Quorum shall consist of at least 6 Committee members with a minimum of 4 to be Executive.
(c) If a Quorum is not present within 30 minutes of the advertised starting time of the Meeting, that Meeting shall be adjourned.
(d) That Meeting shall be rescheduled to a date not exceeding 14 days from the original meeting date.
(e) If a Quorum is not present within 30 minutes of the advertised starting time of the rescheduled Meeting, or if a suitable date cannot be agreed upon at the original Meeting, that particular Meeting shall be cancelled.
(f) In the absence of both the Chairman and Deputy Chairman at a Meeting and providing a Quorum being present, those present are to elect a Chairman for the Meeting.
(g) The Secretary shall issue a Meeting notice and call for Agenda to all Club Representatives and Executive not less than 30 days prior to the Meeting.
(h) The Club Representatives and Executive shall deliver all Agenda to the Secretary not less than 15 days prior to the Meeting.
(i) The Secretary shall publish and distribute the final Agenda not less than 10 days prior to the Meeting.
(j) Items for inclusion on the Agenda of any Meeting may be submitted at the Meeting but any Members present may exercise their right to veto any such item if the item is deemed to be better served under a Special Resolution or if limited by available time remaining.
(k) All financial Members shall be eligible to attend any Meeting,
(l) Any Meeting (except the AGM) may, upon a motion being duly moved and carried, be adjourned to enable a meeting of any Sub-committee to be convened if deemed necessary to facilitate proper decision making on any issues presented.
(m) Voting on any general issues, not deemed to be better served under a Special Resolution, shall be restricted to one vote per Committee member. Club Representatives shall have the authority to vote without consulting their Club. The Chairman must abstain but may lodge a casting vote in the case of a deadlock.
(n) Voting on a Special Resolution shall be carried out in strict accordance with Section 19 or 20 below.
(o) Any Member ruled to be disorderly by the Chairman, shall be removed from the Meeting and their vote (if any) curtailed until a replacement Representative is appointed. If none available, the Meeting will continue without their Club’s representation. There will be no replacement offered in the case of the Member being an Executive Officer.
(p) A copy of the Minutes shall be sent to all of the Executive and Club Representatives within 30 days of the meeting. The Club Representative must adhere to the provisions of Section 5. Parts (m) & (o)i. above.

16. Annual General Meeting and Elections

(a) The AGM shall follow all provisions of Section 15 above, except part (l).
(b) The business of the AGM shall be the notification and ratification of action taken during the year by the Executive, any business that any Member wishes to place on the Agenda, and the election of the Executive for the next term of Office.
(c) Nominations for members of the Executive shall be received by the Secretary, duly nominated, seconded and signed or approved by the nominee, up to the conclusion of the AGM. At this time the Chairman shall declare all Offices vacant and a returning Officer shall be appointed to conduct the election of the USFA Chairman who shall then complete the election.
(d) Voting shall be by a show of hands or by secret ballot at the discretion of those present.
(e) The Chairman of the elections will have no vote except as a casting vote in the case of a drawn result.
(f) If there is only one nomination presented in accordance with part (c) above for a particular position, then the nominee shall be deemed duly elected into that position.
(g) Any positions left vacant at the completion of the elections shall be advertised by the Secretary with the view of seeking nominations. Notwithstanding the provisions of Part (f) above, the nominations shall be dealt with in accordance with Section 20 below.

17. Extraordinary Committee Meetings

(a) An Extraordinary Meeting of the Committee, or any Sub-committee, may be called at any time by the Executive or upon receiving a request from Clubs representing at least 50% of the voting power of the USFA.
(b) Notice of the Extraordinary Meeting is to be served to all Executive and Club Representatives not less than 30 days prior to the meeting.
(c) The Chairman of the USFA shall have the authority to call an Extraordinary Meeting with limited notice in times of emergency.

18. Special Resolutions or Notices of Motion

(a) Any matter or issue presented to the Executive or Committee that is over and above the matters and issues related to the every day running of the USFA, or any matter or issue which would be deemed to require a broad response, shall be deemed a Special Resolution.
(b) A Special Resolution is to be referred to a Meeting or an Extraordinary Meeting or be dealt with electronically.
(c) A Special Resolution is to be voted on in accordance with the provisions of Section 19 or 20 below.

19. Voting Rights and Voting

(a) The voting power of a Club shall be calculated on the basis of every full 10 members of a Club shall gain that Club one vote. E.g. 9 Members - no vote; 20 Members - 2 votes; 47 Members - 4 votes etc.
(b) Voting on general issues not deemed a Special Resolution shall be carried out in accordance with Section 15. Part (m) above.
(c) No Club shall hold a total voting power in excess of 15 votes. E.g. 160 Members - 15 votes; 200 Members - 15 votes.
(d) The Executive shall hold only one vote as a whole, being a casting vote only.
(e) A simple majority shall decide if a motion is to be carried or defeated.
(f) If voting reaches a deadlock, the Executive shall clear the room to discuss and vote on the motion in order to deliver the casting vote.
(g) If Part (f) above eventuates, the Chairman shall only carry a casting vote as part of the Executive vote.
(h) Any Member involved in the voting on any issues relating to the business of the USFA must declare if a conflict of interest exists in any issue, and, if one does exist, that Member must abstain from the vote on that issue.

20. Electronic Voting

(a) If the Committee or the Executive require a matter dealt with between Meetings, they shall inform the Secretary who shall, within 14 days, advise all Clubs and the Executive of the details of the matter in the form of a Notice of Motion.
(b) Upon receiving such notice, the Club Representative must carry out his duties as outlined in Section 5. Part (o) above.
(c) The Club Representative must return his Club’s vote in writing to the Secretary within 30 days: being the validity date. Any Club votes received after this date shall be declared invalid and an explanation may be sought by the Executive.
(d) The Executive shall consider and decide the matter from the indication of votes received from the Clubs. This decision shall be final and shall be circulated by the Secretary within 30 days of the validity date.
(e) Any Club wishing to amend the Notice of Motion shall record its amendment with its vote for the consideration of the Executive.
(f) The Executive may issue a notice of motion at any time.
(g) Voting power shall be determined by the secretary from the provisions contained in Section 19 above.
(h) All Parts contained in Section 19 above, are to be adhered to.
(i) All records of the abovementioned are to be placed on file by the Secretary and produced at the next Meeting if required.

21. Correspondence

(a) Correspondence shall be treated in 3 priorities: “A” Class; “B” Class; or “C” Class.
(b) “A” Class correspondence shall be considered of greatest urgency and shall be replied to ASAP, but not more than 14 days upon receipt of the communication by the Club representative.
(c) “B” Class correspondence shall be considered of medium urgency and shall be replied to ASAP, but not more than 21 days upon receipt of the communication by the Club Representative.
(d) “C” Class communication shall be considered of least urgency and shall be replied to ASAP, but not more than 30 days upon receipt of the communication by the Club Representative.
(e) The Chairman or Secretary may classify outward correspondence if deemed necessary.
(f) The Chairman or Secretary may classify inward correspondence if deemed necessary, and the Executive shall be bound by the provisions of this section: Parts (b), (c), & (d) above.
(g) Any communication not replied to within 7 days of its due date, shall be followed up by the Members Liaison Officer.
(h) Any communication deemed “Confidential”, shall not be transmitted beyond the bounds of the Executive until such time as deemed cleared for general distribution.

22. Notices

(a) A Notice may be served upon any Member either in person, by mail, or electronically, and shall be classified as “A” Class correspondence.
(b) Any Notice served by mail or electronically shall be deemed to have been served at the time when it would have been delivered in the normal course of events.
(c) The Members Liaison Officer shall follow up on any Notices served within 7 days of the serving to ensure; firstly - it being received; secondly - it being treated as “A” Class by the recipient; and thirdly - the recipient understands the content of the Notice.

23. Finance

(a) All finance shall be under the control of the Committee.
(b) All monies for the USFA shall be paid in full to the Treasurer who shall bank such monies within 7 days of receipt.
(c) All accounts payable by the USFA shall be paid by cheque, which shall be signed by the Treasurer and one other member of the Executive (being a nominated signatory on the account), or EFT using 2 factor authentication (a one time password generator), which only allows the EFT to take place with one Executive member as the originator, and one Executive member as the authenticator.
(d) The financial year shall be from 1-7- preceding year to 30-6- following year. 
(e) In the case of any new applications for affiliation or Membership being received before and near to the end of a financial year, thus leaving insufficient time to complete the transaction and associated accounting, the fees payable will be accounted in the next financial year but full Membership rights shall be extended in the interim.
(f) The assets and income of the USFA shall be applied solely in the furtherance of its specific authority, and no portion shall be distributed directly or indirectly to the members of the USFA, except as bona fide compensation for services rendered or expenses incurred on behalf of the USFA.
(g) The Executive may receive, upon the direction of the Committee, payment for services as a condition of appointment, or reimbursement for travelling or other legitimate out of pocket expenses or costs incurred in carrying out the functions or responsibilities of Office.
(h) The allocation of USFA funds for any purpose, including State Team subsidies, shall be controlled by the Committee.
(i) All claims for reimbursement shall be made to the Secretary at regular intervals.
(j) All payments shall be made in accordance with Part (c) of this section, above.

24. Employment of Staff

(a) Upon the recommendation of the Executive, staff may be employed on a part or full time basis to assist the Executive in carrying out its function and responsibilities with respect to the USFA.
(b) Conditions of employment and payment shall be as decided by the Committee.

25. Liabilities of the Executive

(a) If the Executive as a whole or any member of the Executive in his Office as such has paid, or is liable to pay, money for any act, default or omission of any other Member or Members of the USFA, such money shall be refunded to him, or them, by the USFA, or such money shall be paid by the USFA.
(b) Payments made shall be in accordance with Section 23. Part (c). 26. Levies (a) Should the USFA bank balance fall below a figure determined by the Committee, a levy as determined by the Committee shall be placed upon all the Clubs. (b) The levy value shall be placed on the “USFA Schedule of Fees”.
(c) The levy shall be paid within 30 days of invoice.

27. Audits

(a) The Executive shall appoint auditors who shall have the authority to call for the production of all books, papers and accounts relating to the affairs of the USFA.
(b) The accounts shall be audited annually and at any other time deemed necessary by the auditors.
(c) Any Member or Affiliated Club may order an audit at any time by the submission of a written requisition to the Secretary, and the placing of an Audit Bond as outlined in the “USFA Schedule of Fees”.
(d) Any Member or Affiliated Club who shall cause such audit will be exclusively liable for all and any fees and expenses incurred during said audit if all books and processes are found to be in order.

28. Dissolution

(a) The USFA may be dissolved voluntarily whenever a Special Resolution is carried requiring the USFA to be dissolved.
(b) Such a Special Resolution must be dealt with at an Extraordinary Committee Meeting convened for that sole purpose.
(c) In the event of the USFA being dissolved, the funds and property remaining after such dissolution, and the satisfaction of all debts and liabilities, shall be transferred to any Affiliated Clubs of the USFA: such Clubs being organisations not carried on for the profit or gain of its individual Members. Said distribution shall be made in such a way that each Club receives an amount equal to the proportion of its Members as a percentage of the total Affiliated Club Membership of the USFA.

 

History of the Skindivers Magazine

In February of 1951 the Underwater Spear Fishermen’s Association (USFA) produced its first magazine, “Spearfishing News”. With USFA secretary Jim Ferguson as editor this publication consisted initially of 6 typewritten pages. Produced monthly it contained hints on spearfishing and equipment, information on rules, monthly and committee meetings, clubs, trophies and a Man of the Month section.

Spearfishing News continued being produced by the committee every month until September of 1952 when it first appeared as a commercial publication of 24 A5 pages. After the first 2 issues Jim Ferguson wasn’t happy with the new format and reverted to a roneo’d publication for the November issue.

At the November committee meeting of the USFA Jim Ferguson was requested to outline his plan for the future of the magazine. As the committee wished to continue with a commercially printed publication Jim Ferguson resigned and a magazine committee consisting of Edward Du Cros (Editor), Keith Vagg (Associate Editor ) and Jeff Jackson (Advertising) was elected with their first issue being in December of 1952 and with a cover price of one shilling.

In July of 1953 the magazine finances were investigated and found to be chaotic. Over a period of 8 issues the magazine had suffered an average loss of 52 pounds per issue with the June issue recording the largest loss of 76 pounds with a net cost of One shilling five and a half pence per issue. It was recommended that the sale of magazines to shops at 9 pence each be discontinued. It was also recommended that drastic measures be taken to remedy the losses immediately as the financial future of the association was in jeopardy.

In September of 1953 Secretary Dick Barton reported on the reaching of satisfactory financial arrangements and the production of the September issue with a name change to the Australian Skin Diving & Spearfishing Digest and in November of 1953 Keith Vagg took the reins of Editor.

Producing the magazine continued to be a struggle and in July of 1954 the production and Editorial role for the magazine passed to Phil Knightly. Unfortunately this did not work out and in November of 1954 he was replaced with Richard Dreyfus, who worked in the Mirror office. Richard Dreyfus was empowered to produce the magazine on the USFA’s behalf on the same conditions as agreed to with Phil Knightly.

Australian Skindiving and Spearfishing Digest 1958 November
Australian Skindiving and Spearfishing Digest 1958 November

By January of 1955 it was reported that the handling of the magazine was unsatisfactory and the services of Mr. Dreyfus were dispensed with. An endeavour will be made to obtain the services of some other interested person in the spearfishing world. The Feb-March 1955 issue was produced by Dick Barton as temporary editor until September of 1955 when Ray Cooper became the editor. In August of 1956 John Thompson as the USFA’s Business Manager took on the task of producing the magazine,  until October of 1960 when H.R.Smith & Biro with Bob Smith as Editor produced the magazine  for the USFA.

Once again this commercial agreement did not work out and in March of 1961 the USFA again resumed control with a new editor and a new name. With Jack Evans as editor and the title Australian Skindivers magazine production ran smoothly under his stewardship until he reluctantly relinquished his position as editor due to overseas commitments. Jack Evans last magazine was the June/July 1969 issue.

Australian Skindivers Magazine 1969 - July-August - First cover in colour

John Gillies was then appointed editor with the July/August 1969 his first issue and also a first for the ASM, a coloured front cover. However by July of 1970 a financial storm was gathering. As always finances were very tight and with the production of Australia’s first commercial magazine in the offing, advertisers became reluctant to pay. The USFA was then in the position of not being able to pay the printers for the release of the June/July 1970 issue.

Australian Skindivers 1970 Vol 20 No 6 June,July - Final Edition
Australian Skindivers 1970 Vol 20 No 6 June,July - Final Edition

In July of 1970 Skindiving in Australia hit the newsstands and advertising support for ASM completely dried up. Meanwhile payments owing from advertisers were pursued and several months later enough money was in the kitty for the release and circulation of ASM’s final issue. The irony of the situation was such that if advertisers had met their commitments and paid their accounts on time, ASM would have continued.

I had joined the USFA in 1962 as an 18 year old youth and recall how eagerly I awaited each monthly issue of ASM. With regular contributions by Ben Cropp, Ron & Val Taylor, Wal Gibbins, John Harding and a host of others, I would dream of being able to take part in similar adventures.

In December of 1970 “Fathom” magazine appeared in newsagent’s stands. Produced by Gareth Powell with John Harding as Editor and Roy Bisson in charge of design,  Fathom set new standards in production and design and continued for 10 issues until early 1973.

The USFA continued to pursue its own publications. In 1972 Norm Leibick produced several issues of a USFA Newsletter followed by Bill Suters reverting to the ASM name, producing several typewritten issues with the USFA’s Gestetner printer.

In May of 1974 Merv Sheehan began producing Skindiving News from the Metropolitan Zone and with its adoption by the state became Skindiving News from the NSW Zone with its Jan/Feb. 1979 issue with a name change to The NSW Skindiver with the July/August 1988 issue with the final issue in June 1998.

With Shane Spicer as Publicity Officer several issues of Scale Tales were produced with issue 1 appearing in 1999 and issue 4 in December 2000. Then with Merv Sheehan as Editor and Adrian Wayne supplying the facilities of Waycon Pty. Ltd. The Underwater Fishing and Free Diving Magazine was produced for three issues  between December 2001 and Feb. 2003. In March 2004 Oliver Wady as editor and Adrian Wayne’s staff at Waycon produced Spearfishing, Free Diving and Film Fishing News.

With this issue of “Australian Skindivers Magazine” we enter an exciting new era of production of a news magazine for our membership. With everyone’s help, long may it continue.

We have scanned over fifty editions  of Skindivers Magazines from the 50's and up. If you have one we don't please share it with us.