Vale: Les Gleaves

Les Gleaves, Sans Souci Dolphin Life Member, NSW State spearfishing representative, UW hockey player, great all-round fisherman and man of the sea, an excellent pool player, and just an all-round gentleman and good guy.  

Appearing at the Dolphins in the late 60’s as a gangly, quiet teenager Les quickly made his mark spearfishing amongst his peers. 

Growing into phenomenal strength both physically and mentally, and possessing a freakish breath hold and a fantastic fish sense  Les had this unerring ability to usually spear the biggest fish of an outing. Les held the World and National Record for Dogtooth Tuna at 55kg, an amazing achievement at this time (speared in 1986 in the Coral Sea) the record lasting a decade.

Selfless and a good listener. he would be that guy who would often take the juniors and beginners on his boat, never worrying much if it affected his day; you could ask Les anything and he would tell you what he knew to help you progress; he would listen to everyone’s tales of woe (typical of all fishermen) yet I could bet after you spilled your misery he would have some quip, or his own experiences of the day to say  to brighten your own day. Les continually assisted on committees of his club, Zone and State and held positions as Sports Secretary and Records Officer amongst other roles.

Revered amongst the Spearfishing Association scene as a lovely bloke, who possessed a cracking sense of humour, Les was seldom seen without a beer in hand after a dive usually bare chested wearing his customary wetsuit shorts for all seasons and climes.  Les was a fount of knowledge on all things fish, superb at fish identification, and complemented this with knowing where best to find each species of fish.

Les with Maori Wrasse and sea snake adornment

Les,  myself and plenty of others were looking forward to catching up with you at the USFA’s coming 75th anniversary, those that had the good fortune to have met you will miss you, may the waters you dive be clear, the fish abundant, your spear flies true and forever cold is your beer.  Thank you for being so kind and patient with me, and for everything you gave to spearfishing, you never asked for anything in return. You were one of my heroes.


New-look USFA diving into speaking up for spearo’s

Brian Hackett, Hon Dugald Saunders MP and Michael Featherstone

As part of the new-look USFA, we recently met with the Director of Strategy for the Deputy Premier of New South Wales, to take our issues directly to Macquarie Street. As part of these positive discussions, the USFA arranged a face-to-face meeting with the NSW Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, the Hon Dugald Saunders MP. 

The meeting was held in Woopi, at Mick Featherstone’s place (Mick has been the spearfishing rep for Solitary Islands advisory committee for over 12 years). Brian Hackett, the President of the Coffs Harbour Blue Water Freedivers, was also in attendance.  Mick and Brian discussed the Government announcement to introduce a slot limit for the Dusky Flathead (and prosecute the USFA’s position on the matter), gauge the Ministers interest in introducing more marine parks while explaining the importance of our spatial needs in the parks.

Thanks for your time @Dugald Saunders @Paul Toole  @Gurmesh Singh 

We will be continuing our efforts to ensure that spearfishers voices are heard with decision makers here in NSW. Please reach out if you have any queries or comments!

USFA Chairman Simon Trippe with Director of Strategy, Hugh at the Deputy Premier’s Office

2022 USFA Executive Committee

Underwater Skindivers & Fisherman’s Association office bearers:

Office Person
Chairman Simon Trippe
Vice Chairman Parry Gryllis
Secretary Ian Buck
Treasurer Evan Leeson
Public Officer Alistair Cooke
Membership Officer Ricardo Casquete
Sports Secretary Lee Dalli
Events Coordinator Alistair Cooke
Webmaster Sam Kz
First Nations Liaison Officer David Leha
Historical Officer Mel Brown

Club Delegates

Central Coast Sea Lions Josh Ward, Alistair Cooke
Port Hacking Penguins Gary Baxter
Mosman Whalers Steven Park
North Shore Underwater Club Lee Dalli, Ian Buck
Sydney Orcas Bob McComb, Michael Song
Sans Souci Dolphins Sahil Prasad

2021 USFA Executive Committee

Underwater Skindivers & Fisherman’s Association office bearers:

Office Person
Chairman Scott Williams
Vice Chairman Simon Horvath
Secretary Adam Price
Treasurer Gary Baxter
Public Officer Justin Delaney
Membership Officer Tiana Williams
Sports Secretary Scott Williams
Events Coordinator Alby Cooke
Webmaster & Social Media Vacant
First Nations Liaison Officer David Leha
Junior Executive Michael Song
Junior Executive Parry Grillis
Junior Executive Martyn Kieselbach
Historical Officer Mel Brown

Red rock cod, bacon, fermented chilli stir fry (serves 2)

Recipe thanks to Chef Jai Gibbons


  • 1 red rock cod, filleted and diced
  • 2 rashers of bacon diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons of fermented chilli bean paste
  • 1 knob of ginger finely grated
  • 1 tin water chestnuts, quartered
  • 1 bunch shallots cut into 1 inch batons
  • 1 bunch of coriander
  • 100g firm tofu cut into 2cm x 1cm chunks
  • 2 sticks of celery sliced into half moons
  • 100g flour
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • 30ml Shaoxing wine
  • 150mls veg oil
  • Jasmine rice
  • abalone (optional) and if you can find one




Fish / veg

Heat a wok to a high heat with 120mls of veg oil. Mix diced fish with flour and shake excess off, quickly fry in the hot oil in batches until golden and 50% cooked. Remove from wok and let it drain on paper towel. Remove most of the oil from the wok and quickly cook celery, water chestnuts and shallots for a few minutes while tossing on a high heat. You want them to have just started to cook but still be crunchy. Remove from the wok and set aside in a bowl.


Give your abalone a wash and a bit of a scrub/rub to remove any dirt or sand. Put a heavy based pan on the lowest your burner/stovetop can go and add a tiny bit of oil place the whole abalone in flesh side down and let it cook for between 20-30 minutes. It should only lightly colour. Turn the heat off and let the abalone rest and relax. Remove the abalone from the shell and remove the guts. Cut the abalone into 3mm batons.

Stir fry

Heat the wok to a medium heat and add 1 tablespoon of oil, add diced bacon and cook until the fat has rendered, add the ginger and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant. Add the Shaoxing wine and reduce by half. Add the fermented chilli paste and cook out for a few minutes add a pinch of white pepper. Then add about 40mls of water to the sauce and stir until combined. add the fish back to the wok, toss the fish to coat with the sauce then add the vegetables and abalone(optional) back in and toss until the sauce coats everything and it is nice and hot. Garnish with coriander and sesame seeds and serve with some steamed jasmine rice.

Crispy skin blue morwong, lemon butter sauce and roasted fennel (serves 2)

Thanks Chef Jai Gibbons


  • 1 medium sized blue morwong, scaled, filleted skin on, pin boned.
  • 80g butter unsalted
  • 2 heads of fennel
  • 1 small lemon (zested and kept for fennel)
  • 1/2 bunch of chives finely sliced
  • 30ml olive oil
  • 50ml white wine (optional)
  • 30ml veg oil
  • Fennel seeds
  • Tablespoon of flour.
  • salt



Cut each head of fennel in half length ways and each half into 3 wedges and lay them in a baking dish, add white wine, olive oil, salt, lemon zest and fennel seeds over the top of the fennel. Cover with foil and bake for about 15 minutes on 180c. Remove the foil and continue to bake them until coloured on top and the fennel is tender.

Fish sauce

Preheat a heavy based pan or cast iron pan to a high heat. Lightly season your portions of blue morwong with salt and coat the skin with flour, dust off any excess flour and add the veg oil to the pan. Place the morwong skin side down into the pan and apply a light pressure on the back of the fish with a fish flip/spatula. Reduce the heat to a medium heat and continue to cook until the skin becomes golden and the fish is about 70% cooked. Add 1 tablespoon of butter to the pan and the flip the fish and baste with the butter until the skin looks delicious and crisp. Remove the fish from the pan and place on your serving dish or plate.

Add the remaining butter to the pan and cook until the butter is foaming and just starting to colour. Squeeze the lemon juice into the butter and remove from the heat. Add the chives and about 30-50mls of water to the pan and swirl the pan until the sauce thickens slightly.

Spoon the sauce onto the plate with the fish but not over the skin as it will make it less crisp.

Serve with the roasted fennel and a light salad. Rocket would go nicely.

Leather jacket satay, spicy peanut sauce (SERVES 2)

Thanks Chef Jai Gibbons


4 medium sized leatherjackets cut into strips and put onto skewers

For marinade

  • 1 tablespoon Sunflower Oil
  • 1 Garlic Clove (crushed)
  • 1 Long Red Chillies (chopped)
  • 1 tsp White Pepper (ground)
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Coriander Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 tsp Shrimp Paste or fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Light Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Kecap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)

For sauce

  • 1 tablespoon Peanut Oil
  • 1 Garlic Clove (crushed)
  • 1 Asian Eschalot (red, finely chopped)
  • 2 Small Red Chillies (thinly sliced)
  • ¼ cup Smooth Peanut Butter
  • ½ cup Light Coconut Milk
  • 2 tablespoons Kecap Manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Light Soy Sauce
  • 50g Unsalted Roasted Peanuts (crushed)½ Lime

Marinade Method

Heat all ingredients in the marinade list, in a wok or small pot for about 5-8 minutes on a medium heat until fragrant and slightly thick, remove from the wok or pot. Let cool and coat the leatherjacket skewers with marinade.

Spicy peanut sauce-

for the spicy peanut dipping sauce, heat oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, eschalot and chilli, and cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until softened. Add peanut butter, coconut milk, kecap manis, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce and a pinch of salt. Reduce heat and gently simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes until the ingredients are combined. Add crushed peanuts, lime juice and 1/4 cup (125ml) water, then return to a simmer and cook for a further 2 minutes until reduced slightly. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Grill skewers of leatherjacket, serve with spicy peanut sauce over the top or as a dipping sauce, serve with steamed jasmine rice and Asian greens.

Herb and parmesan crumbed Garfish, tartare sauce (serves 2)

Thank you Chef Jai Gibbons


  • 4 garfish butterflied and pin boned
  • 3 tablespoons of parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of dill, finely chopped
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup of parmesan microplaned/finely grated
  • 1 lemon zested
  • 1 egg
  • 100ml milk
  • ½ cup flour
  • 100g mayonnaise (kewpie brand is good, or make it yourself)
  • 1 gherkin or pickled cucumber, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and roughly chopped
  • 100ml veg oil
  • Salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • Method-



Mix the bread crumbs, parmesan, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of parsley, 1 tablespoon of dill, pinch of salt and pepper in a bowl. Whisk the egg and milk together in a bowl and place the flour in another bowl.

Lightly season the fish with salt, dip into the flour, dust the excess off. Dip into the egg mix, then remove and place into the crumbs. Gently coat the fish.

Heat the oil in a cast iron or heavy based pan to a moderate heat. Place the fish in skin side down and cook until the crumbs are golden then turn and cook golden again and remove from the pan. Place on some paper towel to remove excess oil and lightly sprinkle some salt and cracked black pepper over the fish.

Serve with chips and salad.

Tartare sauce

Add chopped gherkin or pickles, capers, 1 tablespoon of chopped dill, 1 tablespoon of chopped parsley, 1 pinch cracked black pepper, squeeze of lemon juice to taste. To the mayonnaise of your choice.

Crispy skin black drummer, beurre noisette, boulangère potatoes (serves 2)

Thanks Chef Jai Gibbons

Ingredients list

  • 1 medium sized black drummer (filleted skin on)( bones and head cleaned)
  • 4 medium Desiree/red skin potatoes
  • 150g butter
  • 1 tablespoon capers (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 stick of celery (cut into chunks)
  • 1 onion (cut into chunks)
  • 1 carrot (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 200mls of drummer stock
  • 30ml of veg oil



Stock- take the head and frame from the black drummer and rinse in cold water until all the blood is gone, remove the eyes and gills from the head. Add to pot with 1.5l water, carrot, onion, and celery. Bring to boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes. Skim the fat and scum regularly. Take off the heat and let it rest and then strain.

Boulangère potatoes-thinly slice potatoes, using a mandolin helps, layer them like fish scales in a baking dish, add a pinch of butter, very small amount of salt and pepper and a few pieces of thyme, rosemary and bay leaf on each layer. Repeat until all the potatoes have been used up. Top the final layer with olive oil, salt pepper and herbs. Add 200mls of drummer stock and wrap with foil. Bake for around 30 minutes, remove foil and bake until slightly golden on top.

Crispy skin fish-portion the drummer fillets into manageable sized portions usually 2-3 portions per fillet. Score the portions. Leave the portions skin side up with paper towel on the skin until dry.

Preheat a heavy based or cast iron pan to a high heat, add the veg oil and heat until shimmering. Sprinkle salt over the fish skin and gently place it skin side down in the pan.

Press down on the fish slightly and let it relax in the pan so the skin lies flat. Turn the pan down to medium and continue cooking until the skin is crisp and golden and the fish is about 70% cooked. Add 30g of butter and flip the fish over and spoon the foaming butter over the skin for about 20 seconds. Remove the fish from the pan and put it onto the serving plates. Quickly add the remaining butter to the pan and add the capers and parsley and cook until crisp and the butter starts to brown. Squeeze some lemon juice in and take off the heat. Spoon the capers, parsley and brown butter over the fish. Serve with the boulangère potatoes and enjoy.

Pan seared squid, squid ink vinaigrette (serves 2)

Thanks Chef Jai Gibbons


  • 1-2 whole squid (legs gently removed and ink sac separated)
  • 50g butter
  • 30ml veg oil
  • 200ml olive oil
  • 50ml white wine
  • 70ml red wine vinegar
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 1 red chilli, sliced
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • ½ tsp toasted fennel seeds
  • 1 large eschallot finely diced or ¼ small brown onion finely diced
  • salt
  • Optional-
  • Rice/salad/pasta/chips


Squid ink vinaigrette

Heat 50mls of olive oil on a moderate heat in a small pot. Add chilli, garlic and thyme. Continue stirring often until the garlic starts to go golden then add the diced eschallot or onion and cook until soft. Increase the heat to high and add the white wine and red wine vinegar, cook until reduced by half. Turn the heat down to low, add fennel seeds and carefully pierce the ink sack from the squid while holding it over the pot. Cook for at least 5 minutes then add the remaining 150mls of olive oil while whisking until combined. Add salt to taste.

Cooking the squid

Take your squid and gently remove the legs and innards without popping the ink sack. Wipe the inside of the squid out. Carefully score the squid hood 70% through about 6-10 times along the hood depending on the size. Heat a heavy based pan to a high heat and add 30ml of veg oil. Season the squid lightly with salt and pepper. Place squid score side down into the smoking pan and press it down with a spatula for about 30 seconds or until a light golden colour has formed. Flip the squid and add 50g of butter and spoon the foaming butter over the squid for 30 seconds – 1 minute. The squid should be just cooked with a nice golden colour on the presentation side. Remove from the pan and slice into 3 pieces then place onto the plate and dress with the squid ink vinaigrette. Serve with your choice of garnish such as pasta, salad, chips, or rice. All will work equally as well with the flavour combination.

Luderick and lentil curry (serves 2)

Thanks to Chef Jai Gibbons


  • 2 medium sized ludericks, filleted, skin off and diced
  • 1 clove garlic(diced)
  • 1 knob ginger(diced)
  • 1 brown onion (diced)
  • 1 tomato(diced)
  • 2 red chilli, (diced)
  • Turmeric powder 1 tablespoon
  • Cumin seeds, toasted and ground 2 tablespoon
  • Coriander seeds toasted and ground 2 tablespoon
  • Black mustard seeds, 1 tablespoon
  • Fenugreek, ½ teaspoon
  • Curry leaves (optional)
  • Ghee or veg oil 50ml
  • 1 tin of lentils or half a cup of dried brown lentils.
  • Salt
  • Pepper


  • Rice
  • yoghurt
  • coriander to garnish
  • roti
  • poppadom’s



Heat ghee or oil on a high heat in a large saucepan or pot and add black mustard seeds. Cook until they start popping. Add the curry leaves and fry in the oil until fragrant. Turn the pan down to medium and add the garlic, ginger, and chilli. Cook until garlic is starting to go slightly golden and fragrant. Add the remaining spices and cook until combined and dry.. Add the onions and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the onions are tender and translucent. Add the tomato and cook until it is broken down and reduced Add a small pinch of salt to help build flavour. Add your lentils. If using tinned lentils strain them and use less water in the next part. If using dried lentils add them to the pan and toast them of for a few minutes before adding 500mls of water and cooking with the lid on. Adjust the amount of water through the cooking process to keep it a nice consistency. Cook for 30 minutes – 1 hour. Topping up the water as required. Once the lentils are tender and the flavour is developed adjust your seasoning and lightly season the diced fish, add your diced luderick and quickly stir through while raw. (make sure the fish is submerged). Put the lid on and let it cook gently for 5-8 minutes. (do not stir at this point or the fish will break up and lose its texture.)

Serve with steamed basmati rice, fresh coriander, yoghurt and your choice of roti or poppadom’s.

Eastern Cray Mornay (Serves 2)

Thanks to Chef Jai Gibbons


  • 1 eastern crayfish
  • 500mls full cream milk
  • 40g butter
  • 40g flour
  • 100g sharp cheddar cheese
  • Chives (finely sliced and stems set aside for sauce)
  • Bay leaves
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Optional-
  • Chips/roast potatoes
  • Fresh salad (Radicchio, radish, rocket, fennel etc)



Mornay sauce

Put milk to a small pot with 2 bay leaves and the bottom part of the chives, add to the heat and slowly bring up till simmering. Turn the heat off and let it infuse. Strain the milk into a small jug or bowl. Clean the pot and add the butter and heat until foaming, add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Cook on a medium heat, stirring for 1-2 minutes or until blonde in colour. Add the warm milk gradually while continuously whisking allowing the sauce to thicken before each addition of milk. Once all the milk is added continue whisking until there are no lumps and the sauce thickens. Turn off the heat and add the grated cheese while stirring until incorporated. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside and cover with baking paper so a skin does not form.


Preheat oven to 160c. Put a large pot of water on the stove and bring to the boil. Blanch the crayfish for 1 minute and remove from the water (this helps the meat to come away from the shell). Cut the crayfish in half and season lightly with salt, pepper and olive oil, put a heavy base pan on the stove on a high heat. Add your crayfish shell side down to the pan and put it into the oven. Check every few minutes depending on the size. Once the crayfish is 60% cooked remove from the oven. Spoon over mornay sauce, turn the oven onto grill and put the lobster back in until the sauce is nice and golden. Remove from the grill and add chives and cracked black pepper to the top and serve with your choice of garnish, chips/ roast potatoes/ salad.

Pan Roasted Bream, Hainanese Style Ginger and Shallot Oil (serves 2)



  • 1 pan sized bream (scaled and gutted)
  • 2 knobs ginger
  • 1 bunch of green shallots
  • 100ml rice bran oil/canola oil
  • Salt
  • Rice flour ½ cup
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice
  • Optional-
  • Asian greens (Buk choy, Chinese broccoli etc)
  • Jasmine rice (1 cup for 2 people)



Sauce- Microplane/finely grate the ginger, finely slice the shallots, add them to a jar or small heat proof bowl, heat 70ml of the oil until just starting to smoke, pour the oil carefully over the ginger and shallots and stir. Leave it for 5 minutes then add about 40ml of water and mix well. Add salt to taste. Refrigerate the dressing until cold.

Fish- Scale and gut the bream and dry really well, trim the fins off with scissors, take a sharp knife and score the flesh a few times on each side, season very lightly and pat dry with paper towel. Make a mix of about half cup of rice flour, a teaspoon of five spice and a pinch of salt. Turn the oven on to 160c. Put a heavy based pan on a high heat, once hot add remaining rice bran oil and swirl around the pan to coat the whole pan. Place your bream into the rice flour mix and evenly coat, dust off excess and place into the hot pan. Turn pan down after about 20 seconds to medium heat and get a nice colour and crust on the fish do not move it around much just be patient. Once a beautiful crust has formed (this will be the presentation side) shake the pan gently to see if the fish is not stuck to the pan, gently flip the fish over and put the pan into the oven. Check after 5 minutes, the flesh should almost be pulling from the bone but not falling off. Take out of the pan and enjoy.

Serve with steamed Asian greens, jasmine rice and add the dressing over the fish as you please.

Roasted chilli & Goatfish risotto (serves 2)

Thanks to chef Jai Gibbons


  • 1 medium sized goatfish
  • 1 onion (finely diced and offcuts and skin kept for stock)
  • 2 cloves of garlic (finely minced)
  • White wine 1 cup
  • 1 cup of arborio rice
  • 1 stick of celery (cut into chunks)
  • 2 fresh ripe roma tomatoes (diced
  • Basil leaves
  • Dark chilli paste (incas food aji panca brand) 2 tablespoons/to taste
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 80g of butter unsalted
  • 50g parmesan (microplaned/grated fresh)
  • 30ml extra virgin olive oil (finishing)
  • 60ml of olive oil for frying (stock and rice)
  • 20ml veg oil for cooking the fish
  • salt to taste
  • fresh cracked pepper to taste



Fish- scale/gut goatfish, pat dry and set aside fillets on a plate skin side up to let the skin dry and let the fish come to room temperature.

Cut the bones/head and fins into chunks and wash the blood out in cold water (change the water a few times) cut the eyeballs and gills out.

Stock- heat 30ml of olive oil in a pot that can hold about 2L of liquid, add the bones and roast them on a moderate heat until golden (keep stirring so the bottom does not burn)

Once the bones are golden and there is a sticky caramelised layer in the bottom of the pot add the onion offcuts, celery and cook until tender, deglaze with ½ cup of white wine and reduce by half, then add 1.5l of water and cook for 1 hour or until the stock is nice and rich in flavour, it should smell like a nice prawn flavour. Strain the stock and set it aside.

Risotto – heat 30ml of olive in medium sized saucepan on a medium heat, add onions, garlic cook until translucent, add seasoning and rice cook until slightly toasted while stirring continuously, add the chilli paste and paprika, cook for 20 seconds. Increase to a high heat, add wine and fresh tomatoes and cook until the moisture has been absorbed. Reduce heat back to medium/low, start adding the warm stock about 150mls at a time stirring occasionally. As the rice absorbs the stock, continue adding stock gradually and continue until rice is cooked through but still al dente (has a slight bite to it). Turn off the heat, add another ladle of stock and let rest with the lid on while you cook the fish.  Finish with butter, parmesan and olive oil, stirring until incorporated. At this point you may need to add a little more stock (or water if you have used all the stock) to loosen the risotto it should slowly spread along the plate as your serve it; like a thick soup, it should not be firm!  Adjust seasoning to your personal taste. Garnish with fish and add basil leaves. Drizzle some olive oil over the top. And add a touch more black pepper.

Fish cooking-  season fish with salt on the skin, heat a cast iron or heavy based pan on a high heat, add cooking oil and let it heat until slightly smoking or shimmering, turn the pan to coat the whole surface, gently place the goatfish into the pan skin side down and press the fish down lightly, let the fish relax and turn the heat down to medium. Once the skin is crisp and slightly golden and about 70% cooked flip the fish over and add about 20g of butter and slowly baste (spoon the butter over the fish skin). After about 20 seconds remove the fish and let it rest for a moment while you finish the risotto and plate it up.


Athol Bryan ( George) Davies was born on the 17 th May 1923 and left us on 5 th June 2019 at the age of 96.

George could rightly be described as the father of Spearfishing in Australia. George’s interest in spearfishing began when the July 1939 issue of “Popular Science” magazine contained an article
“Human Submarine Shoots Fish with Arrows” and a lifelong passion for the sport of spearfishing was aroused.

At this time there was no equipment available and George found himself experimenting with homemade equipment designs. Face masks were made from a piece of oval glass and rubber cut from car tyre tubes. Continue reading VALE GEORGE DAVIES BEM PIONEER SPEARFISHER

UPDATE: USFA Position Statement

USFA Position Statment 22.09.2018

Fishers In the last month we have witnessed a truly organic uprising against a series of over reaching Marine Protected Areas in the Sydney Bio Region. Fishers in NSW are finding their political legs and this can only bode well for us all going forward. This is the third time I personally have fought a similar proposal, initially in 92-93 against the Sydney Coastal Council Group, then in 2009 against the “Torn Blue Fringe” and now against the Marine Estate Management Authority (MEMA). The irony in all this is that we do have a very strong conservation ethic, want healthy and productive oceans, are low risk in regards to threats, yet are continually scapegoated and demonised as the villains. Even if we win this it wont be the end, we will need to continually be vigilant and prepared into the future.

It should be clear to USFA members, all spearo’s and fishers that we won’t be compromising or trading off one location against another. We are however, happy to talk to the Government about workable solutions going forward. We see MEMA as the main protagonists and want to see MEMA replaced with an advisory committee made up of elected stakeholders with its Chair reporting directly to the Minister. We would like independent and transparent scientific reviews into the key risks of the proposed and existing marine protected areas with the view to improving the access to low risk activities. The advisory committee should oversee these scientific reviews.

The USFA is supporting a ten-year moratorium on any new marine protected areas. Whilst in principle multi-use marine protected areas appear nice on the surface, once in place the “use” can be changed with the stroke of a pen by regulators with out going through the legislative process. We through experience have a lack of faith and trust in the regulatory process. Marine protected areas have existed in this state for several decades yet we have seen little in the way of measurable outcomes particularly concerning water quality, abundance in biodiversity, biomass or research. Although we are calling for increases access for low risk activities in established MPA’s we are not yet calling for their abolishment. We feel ten years to improve the outcomes and performance of the managers of these areas before establishing more or demolishing the existing as fair.

Being fully aware that this will historically be remembered as only one in a long series of battles for fishing rights and access, it is important that we build our resilience. Our opponents are well organised and well funded often out of public funds. I believe that we all should now be pushing for funding and premises for a fishing museum and an adjunct research foundation, so as to have a centre for education and training. We need to be supporting and developing our future leaders, improving environmental awareness, improving safety for ourselves and also valuing our unique and diverse fishing culture and traditions. It is hard to believe that there are over a million of us, yet we receive nothing in the way of this like the arts or other sports.

The events of this past month, whilst unpleasant, have really galvanised the fishing community. We should be proud of ourselves. We have seen many alliances between stakeholders strengthened, new and future leaders emerge and a political awakening of the fishing lobby, let’s continue the momentum and use this new found power constructively and wisely.

Thank you,
Bob McComb
President USFA

USFA rejects the ‘Sydney Marine Park Proposal’ What you can do to Help.

Hello Everyone,

USFA rejects the ‘Sydney Marine Park Proposal’

Please see the attached documentation regarding the USFA’s position on the Sydney Marine Parks, information on each proposed site and what you can do to help stop it.

USFA members what to do – What you need to do.

USFA recommendations HBRMP – This is the USFA’s position on each proposed marine parks. 

PETITION_MARINE PARKS – Please complete as many petition sheet as you can and return to the address listed on the bottom.

Nth Hbr Aqu Res Disc Resp 200616 – About the North Harbour Aquatic Reserve  


2018 NSW State Titles

On behalf of the USFA we would like to thank all the competitors who entered and braved the weather in the 2018 NSW State Titles.

A special thanks to our safety boat drivers Paul Christie and Alex Lewis. We really appreciate you both donating your time.

Thanks again to the event sponsors:

USFA – State Titles 2018 Heaviest Fish Overall by AGE

USFA – State Titles 2018 Heaviest Fish Overall

USFA – State Titles 2018 Meritorious Overall by AGE

USFA – State Titles 2018 Meritorious Overall

USFA – State Titles 2018 Place Overall by AGE

USFA – State Titles 2018 Place Overall


Alliman Shield 2017 – November – Watsons Bay

It dawned a dark, rainy day on the morning of the competition and then The Gap was checked to see the conditions outside the seas looked like a washing machine!

But as the divers gathered the safety boat went out and came back the competition was on! The safety talk was conducted and the roll call and the divers went out for the days diving. The harbour turned out to be surprisingly clear with a lot of fish about. Both Shark Island and Sow & Pigs Reef had excellent conditions. But outside the harbour the conditions were rough and sloppy and challenging to spearfish in.


Picture 1 of 16

The competition finished at 1:15pm and all competitors were back in time, some interesting fish came in like Parry Gryllis’s blue bar parrotfish, Phil Sheppard’s spinefoot. Phil also got a huge silver drummer of over nine kilograms. The weigh in went smoothly and some of the tourists that hung about were rewarded with a fish or two, good public relations!
When the score were done it was SSD Derrick Cruz who took out the day with 699pts and Matt Poulton coming fourth with 419pts which has them level pegging at first going into the final round. The last competition is on December the 3 rd at Gunnamatta Bay, Cronulla. A BBQ and drinks will be on after the competition and all are welcome.

Lee Dalli
Metropolitan Spearfishing Zone

Scores are missing October results and will be updated soon.

2018 USFA Executive Committee

Underwater Skindivers & Fisherman’s Association office bearers:

Office Person
Chairman Peter Saunders
Vice Chairman Bob McComb
Secretary Vacant
Assistant Secretary Mel Brown
Treasurer Vacant
Assistant Treasurer Lee Dalli
Membership Officer Simon Horvath
Accreditation, Insurance & Strategic Officer Vacant
Sports Secretary Scott Williams
Events Coordinator Alby Cooke
Webmaster & Social Media Vacant
Sponsorship Officer Vacant
Grants Coordinator Vacant
Online Solutions Officer Vacant
Historical Officer Mel Brown
Public Officer Mel Brown
Public Affairs Officer Bob McComb
Safety & Education Officer Simon Trippe
Recognised Training Officer Simon Trippe
Spearfishing Records Officer Simon Trippe
Endangered Species Officer Matthew Poulton
Environment Officer Matthew Poulton
Marine Advisory Councils Officer Oliver Wady
Marine Parks Liaison (Far North – Coffs) Vacant
Marine Parks Liaison (Far North – Byron Bay) Vacant
Marine Parks Liaison (North) Alby Cooke
Marine Parks Liaison (Central) Matthew Poulton
Marine Parks Liaison (South – Jervis Bay) Oliver Wady
Marine Parks Liaison (South – Batemans Bay) Adam Martin
Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) Representative Matthew Poulton

Alliman Shield 2018

January – Gunnamatta – 
February – Terrigal –
March – Kurnell – 
April – Long Reef –
May – Little Manly –
June – Kurnell –
July – No Competition
August – Bayview –
September – Long Reef –
October – Kurnell –
November – Watsons Bay –
December – Gunnamatta –

Continue reading Alliman Shield 2018

2017 Individual state titles

Only one more week until the 2017 Individual state titles
The NSW individual state titles will be held over the weekend of the 28th and 29th of October on the beautiful Central Coast of NSW. The competition is generally rotated through the zones every 4 years with the other zones Sydney, Northern and Southern each holding the competition when it’s their turn. This year the Central Coast Sealions are hosting this prestigious event with aim of making it a fun and exciting event promoting safe diving , camaraderie and participation. between divers.

The State Titles are historically a rock hop in order to make the competition as fair as possible for all participants. The Locations selected for this year’s event are Catherine Hill Bay, Norah Head, Pelican Point and Bateau Bay. The aim of the competition is to swim out from a central location and catch one of each species from a restricted list of quality table fish. Once the competition is over competitors must be back in the designated weigh in area by the finish time where their fish will be weighed and scored. A huge selection of trophies and prizes are up for grabs covering every grade and also largest fish, most meritorious and committees choice. The NSW State Titles is open to all divers with any level of experience and we encourage all USFA members to attend this great event.


2017 South Coast Mighty Bonanza

I guess when I first heard about this massive, huge, big money fishing comp I was a bit ““oh yeah” line fishing, so what?!?”  I was surprised that there was going to be a spearfishing event, I pricked my ears and I liked the phrases I was hearing “great for the community…educate the growing spearfishing community on safety…getting all kinds of rec fishers together…family weekend away during school holidays…. the council is right behind this…Fisheries love it….” then Adam Martin who seems to run the beautiful township of Tomakin on one hours sleep a week, contacts the USFA and asks if they would be interested in “running” the spearing side of the event on the Tomakin Fishing Clubs behalf. How could you say no!

After a couple of months of brain storming back and forth between many spearos and fishos it was decided to run a true pairs event, that is, two divers spearfishing together that sees one spearfisher diving while his pair dive buddy remains on the surface, this is really putting into practice what the now well coined term “One Up One Down” is all about, it’s great spearfishing safety. TO explain a little further each pair partner can use one gun and has one rig cord connected to their gun, one of these cords is only 4m long, generally the partner on the surface has the short cord hence the diving partner in the pair has the longer rig cord,  both cords are connected to one float only, thus ensuring the float is generally immediately in their dive zone, as east coast southern water spearos can attest to the huge boat traffic we can encounter a dive float and flag is the start of our safe diving checklist.

North Shore Underwater Club had a great Junior representation at the Tomakin Bonanza. Juniors made up one quarter of the sign on. A bright future for spearfishing.

Continue reading 2017 South Coast Mighty Bonanza

NSW State Titles – 2017

This year the 2017 individual State Titles were held by the Central Coast Sealions.

The weekend started at the North end of the Central Coast at Norah Head.

Day 1 – Norah Head

Day 1, started with sign on from 7am which saw 33 divers including 5 female divers from all over including the Far South Coast, Sydney District, Newcastle, Central Coast Region and even Victoria sign on to compete.

Once all safety protocols were checked and species on/off were announced we gave recognition to the first Australians, service men and women & Day 1 commenced.
Divers ran off in all directions from South of Norah to pellows all the way to north of lakes reef… some even made the venture out to the bull!

We had reports from divers swimming back and forth, running from one end to the other of viz between 2 and 15m. Those who had the opportunity to enjoy the 15m had luckily made the right choice in to where to dive. With hours passing we had divers begin to return, some carrying kings over their backs with stories a plenty including the first king taken for Irene a female South Coast Diver.

The great team of the Central Coast Sealions who had chosen not to dive or return early began weigh in and prepare for lunch. Once the fish were weighed divers were given the opportunity to donate any fish which were then filleted, crumbed and put into a wok.

As sign off approached at 1 o’clock all divers had returned and the fish burgers station was in full swing. Fresh bread rolls, salads and fresh crumbed fish fillets were frying away.The burgers went down a treat and were a great hit with several divers returning for seconds and even thirds.
As the day closed and the scores where tallied the leaders and scores for day one were complete.

Day 2 – Bateu Bay

Bateau Bay was chosen as the location for Day 2 with conditions looking good and the final day set to excite.

Day 2 had 34 divers sign on and another beautiful day on the central coast was in store.
Bateau Bay set a challenge to the divers as it was a new adventure and new spot to dive for most. It offered plenty of ground to cover with multiple species to come accross.

All divers returned to the ring on time many with some great fish to show including a decent size king from a Sydney Junior.


After a good BBQ feed with home made fried rice and pad thai kindly made by some lovely family members of the USFA and Central coast sealions all the scores where tallied and winners ready to be announced to the eagerly awaiting divers.

With a massive thank you to ADRENO SPEARFISHING, DIVER AUSTRALIA & ACE SPEARGUNS the central coast sealions had the opportunity to give away over $2500 worth of prizes awarded to promote participation along with the tropheys & prizes awarded to the rightful and well deserved winners of each category.

Please enjoy some pictures of the event and place holders throughout the day also attached final score sheets

Day 1 Photos

Day 2 Photos

Presentation Photos


Canada Cup 2017

Sunday the 12th Of February saw the 65th running of the Canada Cup. An amazing turnout of 67 divers signed on with an impressive turnout of 21 boats . After a quick briefing the divers hit the water and the boats slowly made their way out of the Haven ready for the start. The flag dropped and the boats were off racing. Almost all of the boats headed north to dive the 2 and 3 mile reefs with some venturing as far as Norah Head and the Bull. The weather gods were really in our favor today with almost glass out conditions for most of the day. The divers had plenty of time as the weigh in was not until 2:30 PM that afternoon. Was great to see every category filled including an amazing 13 juniors, 3 ladies and 3 sub Juniors. The predicted forecast for the day was for temperatures to reach upwards of 35 degrees with a late southerly change late in the afternoon. Continue reading Canada Cup 2017

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

2017 USFA Executive Committee

Underwater Skindivers & Fisherman’s Association office bearers:

Office Person
President Peter Saunders
Vice President Bob McComb
Secretary Peter Walsh
Assistant Secretary Mel Brown
Treasurer Kevin Saw
Assistant Treasurer Lee Dalli
Membership Officer Lee Dalli
Accreditation, Insurance & Strategic Officer Peter Walsh
Sports Secretary Cohen Jones
Events Coordinator Alby Cooke
Webmaster & Social Media Sam Krywulycz
Information Officer Simon Horvath
Fundraising Officer Jason Montes De Oca
Grants Coordinator Vacant
Online Solutions Officer Nigel Sirisomphone
Historical Officer Mel Brown
Strategic Planning Officer Peter Walsh
Public Officer Mel Brown
Public Affairs Officer Peter Saunders
Safety & Education Officer Simon Trippe
Recognised Training Officer Simon Trippe
Spearfishing Records Officer Simon Trippe
Data & Research Officer Bob McComb
Endangered Species Officer Matthew Poulton
Environment Officer Matthew Poulton
Marine Advisory Councils Officer Oliver Wady
Marine Parks Liaison (Far North – Coffs) Ray Powell
Marine Parks Liaison (Far North – Byron Bay) Ray Powell
Marine Parks Liaison (North) Alby Cooke
Marine Parks Liaison (Central) Matthew Poulton
Marine Parks Liaison (South – Jervis Bay) Oliver Wady
Marine Parks Liaison (South – Batemans Bay) Ric Cumming
Members Liaison Officer Bob McComb
Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) Representative Matthew Poulton

2017 – Start of the year announcements

It is with much excitement that the USFA would like to announce that the NSW State Spearfishing titles will be held on the October long weekend in conjunction with the Tomakin Sporting Clubs Fishing Bonanza. The State Titles will be a one-day pairs event on the Sunday only and as with all USFA competitions full USFA membership will be required to fish. Pair’s events are becoming more popular in our region and this is the format favoured by our neighbouring countries and the format of our most esteemed competition with them. By incorporating this competition with the Tomakin Fishing Bonanza there is the opportunity to further promote this event, promote pairs competitions and spearfishing to the broader community. On the Saturday morning we also plan to run a spearfishing induction course and then encourage experienced divers to accompany the tyro’s on a dive. There will be incentives to participate in this.

It was decided at the USFA executive meeting last Thursday to keep the USFA membership fee at $90. This was achievable due to discounts on our insurance; the level of coverage still remains the same as when the premiums were higher.  The executive have worked hard with our insurance provider to create this policy and although some feel it is too expensive, we believe it represents good value and is the best currently available to spearo’s in Australia. As spear fishers in other states and territories become aware of this policy, we expect to increase our membership footprint outside of NSW as a result.

The USFA is the peak spearfishing body in NSW and has always advocated for spearfishing access and rights to all spearo’s, be they a member of the Association or not, this is always our default position. In order to improve communication it has been agreed that we should offer a ‘social membership’ to the USFA at nil cost. This is in the hope of improving communication, inwards and outwards, and also that more people will then see the value in taking up full membership with the USFA. This social membership will not have the voting rights, insurance or other benefits of full members, however as we are the strongest voice for all spearo’s in NSW in the legislative and regulatory process, we feel improving our relationship with all of our extended tribe is very important.

Thursday evening also saw the AGM held and the re-election of the entire executive to their previous positions. Two new executives to previously unfilled positions were filled by Bob McComb as Deputy Chair and Simon Horvath as Information Officer, this new influx of experience and enthusiasm is a deliberate attempt to improve consultation with members and stakeholders. Changes to our constitution are also being discussed at the executive currently; these can only be made with the mandate of the membership. All members will be given notice well in advance and we ask that you consider these and the intent of  any changes and vote accordingly.

“Where there is unity there is always victory” (Publilius Syrus).

Alliman Shield 2017

January – Gunnamatta – Cancelled – dangerous ocean conditions
February – Terrigal – Results
March – Kurnell – Cancelled – dangerous ocean conditions
April – Little Manly – Results
May – Port Kembla – Results
June – Gunnamatta – Results
July – No Competition
August – Bayview – Results
September – Long Reef – Cancelled – dangerous ocean conditions
October – Kurnell –
November – Watsons BayResults
December – Gunnamatta –

Continue reading Alliman Shield 2017

Alliman Shield 2016 – 11th September – LongReef

Day of the Bumper Bream

It was a good looking day as the boats gathered in the bay below the historic fishermen’s hut at Long Reef. The fifteen odd boats and nearly fifty divers signed on listened to the safety talk, and waited impatiently for the start. North Shore meant business with a roll up of twenty six divers! After the roll call the divers went to their respective boats and motored out a few hundred yards off shore where the flag start was done from big Maccas boat and boats raced north and south to their dive spots.

The conditions were good, although there was a building southerly swell and the water was cold and even colder on the bottom, the divers dived hard working towards the weigh in at 1:15pm. Continue reading Alliman Shield 2016 – 11th September – LongReef

Alliman Shield – 7th August – Bayview

BAYVIEW = Gone to the Dogs!

Well it wasn’t a good forecast for the Sunday of the Alliman with gale force winds and a big swell running all week not helping. But the brave sport secretaries of each club voted for the comp to be on and on the dawning of the day a dozen boats and nearly forty divers turned up to compete on what turned out to be a pretty good day.

After the safety talk the boats motored slowly down the four knot channel to Pittwater and the open ocean. Weigh in was at 1:30pm sharp and luckily all divers were back in the ring well before the cut off time. The weighing and scoring commenced and as we were next to the huge dog park we had a lot of interested persons and their canine friends to see the fish that came in. One cute pooch modelled the Aussie spearfishing team cap (available from me for $25, please support your team!) and another cute little Maltese helped Gordy with the scores! (See pics).

The ‘Adreno’ Most Meritorious Fish winners for this competition are Ben’s (STG) big bream for the senior category and young Eddie Sherb (SSD) with a 48pt Reef Leatherjacket, prizes will be presented before the competition at Long Reef. Remember anyone can win win one of these prizes but only if you compete!

Continue reading Alliman Shield – 7th August – Bayview

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.


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.

False statement to be rectified in the Hawkesbury Shelf Bioregion Assessment

Following an official complaint made to the Department of Primary Industries about a false statement made in the Hawkesbury Shelf Bioregion Assessment concerning spearfishing, Mel Brown has gotten an apology on behalf of spearfishing.
The two pieces of correspondence mentioned are published here:

From Mel Brown:

To: Geoff Allen,
Attached are copies of correspondence to Peter Gallagher and Minister Niall Blair concerning a false statement that appears in a document of the Hawkesbury shelf Bioregion.
Peter Gallagher has neither acknowledged receipt of this document or responded to it.
Previously the reasoning for excluding spearfishing from the North Harbour Aquatic reserve whilst continuing to allow other forms of recreational fishing was only made in correspondence to the USFA. To now see this claim, which was utterly false, appearing in print necessitates the strongest possible response.
There was, and never has been, a legitimate reason to exclude spearfishers from this reserve where other forms of fishing are allowed.

Yours sincerely
Mel Brown AM

DPI’s response to Mel:

Nth Hbr Aqu Res Pg 1 200616Nth Hbr Aqu Res Pg 2 200616Nth Hbr Aqu Res Pg 3 200616

Continue reading False statement to be rectified in the Hawkesbury Shelf Bioregion Assessment

Alliman Shield 2016 – 1st May – Watsons Bay

Sunday dawned with heavy overcast conditions and rain as the divers gathered in Robertson Park next to the historic Watsons Bay hotel. The safety talk was conducted and the divers jumped into the boats and headed out slowly to outside the moorings where the event start was made from Matt Poulton’s boat.

The rain was a dampener but as the forecast promised sunny conditions later in the day the fifty brave divers headed out into Sydney Harbour hoping for good conditions. As it turned out the conditions were great slight sea light winds, 15 – 20m visibility outside and up to 10m even in the Harbour even though it was low tide.

All the boats and divers made it back by the 1:15pm finish time and the fish were lined up at the weigh in table ready for the scoring. At this stage a crowd gathered to see the fish and ask plenty of questions. There was also some fish donated to the onlookers which made us very popular! Continue reading Alliman Shield 2016 – 1st May – Watsons Bay

USFA Presidents letter – USFA concerns regarding Hawkesbury Marine bio-region

Dear Minister

As the elected President of the Underwater Skindivers & Fisherman’s Association, I feel it is important to inform you of my concerns. Once again there is another campaign, “Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bio- Region” attempting to exclude fishers from our traditional grounds between the NSW Central Coast and Wollongong. The USFA is proud of its long and strong culture of conservation and co-operation, and as such, we are perplexed at how this lock out of fishers will achieve any of the objectives expected.

Our Association believes in the wise, ethical and sustainable use of our marine resources. We believe that this approach along with adaptive management practices is the preferred option rather than a failing protectionist one. The loss of access to key fishing locations is not conservation or management based, there will be little if any increase in overall abundance and there will be little increase from spill over or recruitment. There will also be increased effort in the remaining areas with the resulting decrease in bio mass and in catch. We would also expect an increase in conflict between the different stakeholder groups as we are forced into smaller areas. The safety aspect should also be of consideration, it is our fear that there would be an increase in risky behaviour and accidents, as fishers will be forced into taking greater risks. For the USFA, there is also the concern that divers will be forced into deeper waters as the proposed exclusions take a proportionally larger part of our access, which is water 20m or less in depth.

The basic principle of adaptive management is to monitor trends in abundance and react to this. The USFA is well aware of this, to the extent that we developed our own indices “The USFA Index” to record and measure these trends. As our effort and technology (breath hold, rubber powered guns, etc.) has seen little change in the last 60 plus years, the rigour of our “catch per unit of effort” is now the bench mark for monitoring fish trends. This is used by the CSIRO and also provides our association with an income. There is no other baseline for measuring the trends in fish abundance extending back for 50 years. The lockouts would in effect make these indices redundant and we all would lose this most rigorous monitoring method. This proposed exclusion is the inverse of good management and conservation.

Fishers have always been very compliant and we feel that the best way to achieve conservation and sustainable outcomes is not by exclusion, but inclusion. Our marine heritage is valuable and important to us, and as such we have a strong interest in protecting it. Why exclude us? We have accepted licencing, size and bag limits and a multitude of exclusions already, and will continue to do so. It would appear that these lockouts are not about conservation or sustainable use, but to suit the agendas of relatively small and vocal interests. Some stakeholders such as SCUBA, would effectively gain the exclusive use of this public resource. As fishers we are not seeking exclusive use, we are happy to share.

In closing Minister, I put it to you that the “Hawkesbury Shelf Marine Bio-Region” proposal is the agenda of a few, not the majority of stakeholders. I would also like to make you aware of the cultural importance of these proposed sites to spearfisher’s, they include the location where 68 years ago spearfishing as a sport was founded in Australia. I ask you not to exclude those who wish to continue to use this resource wisely.  Together we have the ability to manage this resource sustainably. Please don’t lock us out.

Yours sincerely
Peter Saunders
President USFA

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

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

Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion assessment

Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregionAs many of you are aware there is a huge push to create another marine park from Newcastle to Wollongong. We are working as hard as we can to minimise the impacts to  spear fishers as much as possible. We set to lose out big time here especially as shallow reefs and headlands <25m include 95% of the areas that we dive.

Continue reading Hawkesbury Shelf marine bioregion assessment

Letter to Minister for Primary Industries re: Complaints Handling Protocols by DPI

15 April 2016

The Hon. Niall Blair MLC
Minister for Primary Industries
GPO Box 5341

Dear Minister


Does the complaints’ handling policy on your website under the banner of NSW Trade and Investment apply to NSW DPI Fisheries staff?

On Monday 14th March 2016 at 7.30 am I sent by email correspondence to Mr Peter Gallagher, Programme Leader – Marine Protected Areas, an official complaint that a statement in one of the Hawkesbury Bioregion’s accompanying documents “Review of 15 Pre – identified Sites” was false – to wit

“Rationale for excluding spearfishing was based on research from the U.S.A. at the time of declaration (1982) which indicated that this fishing method makes fish less approachable by passive divers wanting to photograph or study them (DPI internal 1979)”.

A copy of this correspondence is enclosed. To this date I have not received an acknowledgement or response from Peter Gallagher.

Dot point 4 of the complaints handling policy requires all complaints to be acknowledged and complainants kept informed about the progress of the matter, particularly if delays occur.

This protocol has been ignored – Further under the section   RESPONSIBILITY FOR COMPLAINTS INVESTIGATION  it names the Executive Director FISHERIES NSW and goes on to require “Branch head to ensure complaints are thoroughly investigated and reported on _ _ _ _ and the complainant advised of outcomes within one month.

Again this has not occurred.

Could you please advise on why my complaint has been treated with such appalling indifference by your fisheries department?

It is of importance to spearfishers that the injustice perpetrated by this snide and derogatory comment that unfairly stigmatizes this fishing activity is rectified.

Every day this claim continues in print compounds the damage.

Yours Sincerely
Melven Brown AM

Far South Coast Championships 2016

The week leading up to the comp saw perfect diving conditions flat calm crystal clear warm water. Wazza took full advantage of these conditions leading up to the comp doing a lot of home work and having a serious game plan for the day , Ellis for boaty and list of spots as long as your arm. It certainly paid off, finishing a country mile ahead of some serious competition . The St George boys took out the next 3 spots ( Merv must be smiling as he looks down )
Then a well deserved 6th to Troy fishing with 5 up in the “Haines” then Oly who has won this comp more then any one else And Pete Baker just edging Joe Out. Good to see the captain win. Joey placed 10 th and won the intermediates, Conner Elliot had a blinder finishing 11th out right and winning the Juniors convincingly, followed by Zeb and Darcy in 3rd . Christian won the Sub Juniors and Zac Merlo on his first ever comp, runner up Sub Junior. Living up to the Merlo family tradition. And almost forgot Eddy won the Grand masters again beating Ben Allan by a few fish scales. Thats a fair range of age, from 13 to 70 all competing on the day.

There was over 40 people sign on and all weighed in . There would have been a few more but the weather forecast was bit “how you going” so we lost a few who pulled the plug and cancelled. Sorry you missed out on a great weekend guys. But that’s what comp diving is about, diving the conditions on the day. The comp was well run , there was plenty of BBQ chicken to eat , and great prizes to be won , I was wrapped , won a wet suit that’s perfect for the youngest son. Special thanks to Lee Dalli for doing a run down at the last minute with some great prizes from Adreno. Lee deserves a special mention for all the work he puts in with no fuss or carry on , Thanks Lee. Ray Powell DiveR Australia donated a pair of the worlds greatest Fins DiverR , this time won by Conner Elliot for a thumper of a Boar fish and for such a good overall performance.
Roy from Agro-dive supplied at lot of great prizes and a special thank you to Adreno for there donated prizes. And thanks to Joey Conner for doing the scores a job well done. For two young guys there do so much work. Great stuff.

FSCC Results 2016

Due to the current weather forecast for strong winds the Far South Championships has been changed to be held on the Sunday 24th April. Same location being the Narooma boat ramp for 7.00am sign-on
The forecast looks better for the Sunday with little wind and a reduced swell.FSCC 2016 Flyer

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.

Official Complaint regarding content in Hawkesbury Bioregions accompanying documents

Monday, 14 March 2016

Mr. Peter Gallagher
Program Leader – Marine Protected Areas
Locked Bag 1

Dear Peter


I am writing to lodge an official complaint re a statement in one of the Hawkesbury Bioregions accompanying documents “Review of 15 Pre – identified Sites”.

If you are not the appropriate person to deal with this complaint could you please advise ASAP.

On page 34 which deals with the North Harbour Reserve it justifies the lock – out of spearfishers with this statement “Rationale for excluding spearfishing was based on research from the U.S.A. at the time of declaration (1982) which indicated that this fishing method makes fish less approachable by passive divers wanting to photograph or study them (DPI internal 1979)”.

 This statement is a little milder than that made in writing in correspondence from B. Lynch for G.H. Knowles Director General Department of Agriculture to George Davies (Federal Secretary of the Australian Underwater Federation) dated 29th October 1985 – “The rationale for excluding spearfishing from the North Harbour Reserve is based on studies conducted in the United States of America which has shown that spearfishing, as opposed to most other common methods of fishing, scares the fish to the extent that they are no longer readily approachable by divers wanting to photograph or study them”.

 This statement was fraudulent and dishonest then and remains fraudulent, dishonest and misleading to this day.

 On receiving a copy of the above correspondence I queried the validity of this statement in correspondence to George Davies dated 29th November 1985 as I had copies of all known spearfishing studies and immediately suspected this statement was false.

George Davies again wrote to the Director General (undated, copy received by me on 5/2/86) requesting a copy of this “study” to enable us to determine its relevance to Australian conditions.

Following a meeting of the Recreational Fishermen’s Advisory Council George Davies received a verbal apology from Dr. Peter Ayres, Director of Fisheries for “some sections of the previous letter (29/10/85” however this was never put in writing and no copy of the “study” was produced, prompting another written request.

George Davies wrote again on 17th June 1986 after finally receiving a copy of an article concerning spearfishing in the United States of America. He said in part “In referring to this particular letter (29/10/1985) I find the information therein extremely misleading and inaccurate”.

The “study” had turned out to be nothing more than an article published in the American magazine “Skin Diver” by Bill Barada concerning the neglect of the John Pennekamp State Park and voicing a personal opinion as to spearfishing by the author.

To construe this article as a “study” or having any scientific validity is quite simply reprehensible.

At this particular period of time spearfishing with Scuba was (and still is) extremely prevalent in the U.S.A., whilst spearfishers in NSW had been pro-active in ensuring Scuba spearfishing was prohibited thus providing a depth sanctuary, an initiative that has been extremely successful in conserving shallow water species.

These facts never received any consideration, nor was any expert advice sought from spearfishing representatives in NSW.

An underwater photographer’s biggest problem when photographing fish is the noise his Scuba makes, both on inhalation and exhalation. This is what scares Fish! And this is why professional photographers employ breath – hold diving techniques or use Re – breathers when taking fish photo’s.

The whole art of successful spearfishing is to be able to approach fish without scaring them. The argument that fish are so scared by spearfishing that they are not approachable by other divers is ridiculous and once more evidence of prejudicial treatment by the Department.

I have several times found it necessary to accuse NSW Fisheries of prejudice when dealing with spearfishing matters. This has always been denied but there is no clearer case of prejudice than what has occurred with the locking – out of spearfishers from the North Harbour reserve.


An opinion, judgement or evaluation conceived without proof or competent evidence, but based on what seems valid to one’s own mind.


Injurious, detrimental

 To be frank I am thoroughly disgusted that after all the correspondence from us concerning this issue, a statement that was corrupt and malicious and injurious to our fishing method is still persisting.

My last correspondence on this issue was to the Manager, Protected Areas on 15th May 2001.

One of my greatest concerns with my many dealings with Fisheries over the years is their inability to be frank and honest and to admit to mistakes and rectify them. The same applies equally to governments (of all persuasions).

My writing to you is just the first step. I am quite prepared to take this as far as necessary to have this injustice rectified.

Could you please advise as a matter of urgency your department’s intentions regarding a resolution?

Yours sincerely
Melven Brown AM

South Coast Championships 2016

The South Coast Champs held at Ulladulla was an outstanding success for the Southern Zone. Great weather, well run with a record sign on – 20 boats ranging from Alby’s refurbished 6 meter Haines down to vintage 1960’s Tinnies and the proverbial rubber duck. The SCC was run in conjunction with the Taylor Shield. 55 signed on for the SCC and all divers weighed in. There was a good representation from the Neptune’s, the Sea Lions, Barracudas and of course the Workers. It was the traditional 2 day format, with a quality fish format. 5 hours on Saturday and 6 hours on Sunday. The seas were virtually flat with only a small ground swell to give a bit of white water. Not a puff of wind for the 2 days. Visibility was a varied feast, from plankton rich cool 3 meters to a much warmer 15 meters or more. Spoilt for choice at Ulladulla some boats travelled North and South, near and far while others stayed put and fished the local bommies to great success ( if you could dive the murk.)

Invalid Displayed Gallery

Continue reading South Coast Championships 2016

Big Fish Competition – 2016

Big Fish Competition Results 2016

After a postponed comp on 27th February the comp was held the following Saturday, 5th March.


  1. Steve Nash Kingfish 15700
  2. Darren Coulter Kingfish 15500
  3. Kyle Johnston Kingfish 13700
  4. Luke Beckinsale Kingfish 13100
  5. Alby Cooke Kingfish 11200
  6. Steve Elias Black Drummer 2380
  7. Jacob Elias Black Drummer 2200
  8. Guy Thornycroft Gold Spot 1700
  9. Bill Rule Spangled Emperor 1390
  10. Angus McCook Morwong 1000


  1. Hayden Montgomery Gold Spot 2180
  2. Patrick McGimpsey Black Drummer 1810
  3. James Blair Red Morwong 800

Haden Mongomery
Haden Mongomery

Big Fish 2016 - photo 4 Big Fish 2016 - photo 1

Alby Cook
Alby Cook

Canada Cup 2016

Competition Report

The 64th hosting of the Canada Cup was held on Saturday the 13th of February at Terrigal on the beautiful Central Coast.  The comp was held on the Saturday due to Sunday being Valentine’s Day.  This gave divers a chance to spend the day diving with their mates  freeing up Sunday to spend with the other half and stay in the good books.

Continue reading Canada Cup 2016

Sydney Cup 2016

The Sydney Cup was held this year on Sunday 31st January; it was a calm day when driving down to Gunnamatta Bay with a fog forming over Botany Bay. As the divers gathered for the sign on and safety talk the weather cleared and it promised to be a good day for spearfishing.

Divers had come from all around with divers from the South Coast Barracudas, Newcastle Neptunes, Sans Souci Dolphins, Mosman Whalers, Central Coast Sealions & Revesby Workers attending with many of them juniors and sub juniors. There was the standard safety talk on emphasising the importance of flags on individual divers floats (mandatory), and the need for boat drivers to be extremely careful in and around divers floats. Twenty eight divers then walked down the hill to their boats to travel down Gunnamatta Bay and the open ocean.

The competition end was scheduled for 2:30pm and thankfully all were back well in time. The weigh in was then conducted and Tony a supporter of the Zone was there with a fantastic BBQ lunch of Portugese chicken, salad and plenty of iced drinks, a real social atmosphere with plenty of members catching up for a chat and a catch up.

Simon Trippe & Natalie VercoeThe presentation was held at about 4pm with Simon Trippe as the presentation host and ably assisted by the glamorous Natalie Vercoe presenting the trophies, awards and prizes. The prizes were donated by Adreno Spearfishing who is a great supporter of spearfishing in NSW.

Congratulations to the Sydney Cup 2016 champion, the well-deserved Jack Lavender from the Barracudas with a score of 903pts which was way ahead of the next score of Evan Leeson’s (SSD) of 575pts, Jack reportedly ran all the way down to Port Kembla seeking clear water and found it.

Jack Lavender - Sydney Cup 2016 winner
Jack Lavender – Sydney Cup 2016 winner

In the age categories Grand Master was won by Patrick Mullins (SSD), Master Joe Hyzdal (SCB), Veteran Simon Trippe (SSD), Senior Jack Lavender (SCB), Intermediate Graeme Casey (MW), Junior Josh Green (NN) & Sub Junior Patrick McGimpsey, congratulations all. They shared in the quality prizes donated by Adreno including a speargun, diving fins, numerous smaller prizes like sun glasses, gloves booties and other accessories, this was much appreciated by all who received them.

The day was a lot of fun with a lot of the old hands being there as well as some new faces. Competition diving is a lot of fun and not as hard as most envisage. If you want to find out more and a list of upcoming competitions go onto the USFA website, or contact any of the executives listed on the site.


2016 Australian Spearfishing Team needs our help

The 2016 Australian Spearfishing Team is getting ready to smash it at New Zealand in March and USFA are 100% behind helping them get there. Any donations go into the draw for a huge prize pool.

From the team:

We’re heading to the Interpacific Spearfishing Competition in New Zealand this March and are raising funds to make it happen. If you would like to make any donation it would be greatly appreciated! You can visit our fundraising page

2016 Australian Spearfishing Team2016 Australian Spearfishing Team Members Also if you would like to check out our friend Michelle de Rooy Speara‘s athlete page, you will notice she is doing everything she can including promotional videos on youtube to help the team go viral… Check it out!

Hello there winners (cc team and sponsors)

Congratulations to you all – please see the draw results attached.

Aust Team Raffle 2016 - winnersThanks for entering the raffle and supporting the team this year, it was certainly appreciated by us all.

It was a tough and fair competition with our men finishing 3rd and our ladies team 4th.  Both hard earned results in some very tough conditions which played right into the hands of our kiwi brothers and sisters.

We raised $3,220 through our fundraising efforts with the majority of that money being applied toward our travel and associated costs (think excess luggage!) for our 8 person strong team.

Please be sure to thank the sponsors for their generous donations and do what you can in future to support those who generously give back to our sport year after year.

Congratulations once again from myself and the rest of the team,
Mick Pannach


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

Alliman Shield 2016

January – Gunnamatta – Cancelled – dangerous ocean conditions
February – Bayview – Cancelled – dangerous ocean conditions
March – Kurnell – Results
April – Little Manly – Results
May – Watsons Bay Results
June – Gunnamatta – Cancelled – dangerous ocean conditions
July – No Competition
August – BayviewResults
September – Long ReefResults
October – Kurnell – Results
November – Port Kembla – Results
December – Gunnamatta – Results

2016 End of Year Alliman Shield Results

Congratulations to:

Individual placings:

1st – Matthew Poulton
2nd – Derrick Cruz
3rd – Evan Leeson

B Grade – Cohan Jones
C Grade – Phil Sheppard
D Grade – Patrick Koch

Grand Master – Patrick Mullins
Master – Gordon Black
Veteran – Rob Tierney
Senior – Matthew Poulton
Intermediate – Aaron Puckeridge
Junior – Joe Halkyard
Sub Junior – Jarod McKenzie

Congratulations to: Sans Souci Dolphins winning the year on equal points with North Shore Seahawks.

Grade Changes for 2017


++ up two grades
+ up one grade
– down one grade

A Grade


B Grade


C Grade

2016 USFA Executive Committee

Underwater Skindivers & Fisherman’s Association office bearers:

Office Person
President Peter Saunders
Vice President Peter Walsh
Secretary Peter Walsh
Assistant Secretary Nic Williams/Mel Brown
Treasurer Kevin Saw
Assistant Treasurer Lee Dalli
Membership Officer Lee Dalli
Accreditation, Insurance & Strategic Officer Peter Walsh
Sports Secretary Peter Walsh
Events Coordinator Alby Cooke
Webmaster & Social Media Sam Krywulycz
Fundraising Officer Jason Montes De Oca
Grants Coordinator Vacant 
Online Solutions Officer Nigel Sirisomphone
Historical Officer Mel Brown
Strategic Planning Officer Peter Walsh
Public Officer Peter Walsh
Public Affairs Officer Peter Saunders
Safety & Education Officer Simon Trippe
Recognised Training Officer Simon Trippe
Spearfishing Records Officer Hayden Montgomery
Data & Research Officer Vacant
Endangered Species Officer Matthew Poulton
Environment Officer Vacant
Marine Advisory Councils Officer Oliver Wady
Marine Parks Liaison (Far North – Coffs) Ray Powell
Marine Parks Liaison (Far North – Byron Bay) Ray Powell
Marine Parks Liaison (North) Dallas Davies
Marine Parks Liaison (Central) Matthew Pulton
Marine Parks Liaison (South – Jervis Bay) Oliver Wady
Marine Parks Liaison (South – Batemans Bay) Ric Cumming
Members Liaison Vacant
Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) Representative Matthew Poulton

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

USFA DiveR prize winner – Adreno Sydney Opening

Good afternoon spearos

So this is the lucky spearo, Rob Crawford, who won the awesome Ray Powell DiveR fins designed by one of Ray’s many hot artists, Naomi Gittoes, that were raffled at the Sydney Adreno opening day by the USFA.

Rob Crawford. Winner of the USFA prize at the Adreno Sydney opening.
Rob Crawford. Winner of the USFA prize at the Adreno Sydney opening.

Rob enjoys his spearing and loves a day out on the water in his boat.
Thanks goes to DiveR Australia for his continued loyalty to the USFA, Adreno for their wonderful support, and to all spearos on the day who purchased a ticket. Please look at for dive and safety tips and to see the work USFA is doing for spearos along the coast.

Alliman Shield 2015 – 11th October – Kurnell

The conditions looked good as the sun came up over Botany Bay. It was 7am and there were the usual bike riders and dog walkers about while the ring and sign on sheets were organised in the park but no divers!
Alliman Shield Oct 2015 1
Alliman Shield Oct 2015 1Alliman Shield Oct 2015 3Sure enough from various directions the spearo boats came steaming in and by 7:30am nearly fifty divers in fifteen boats signed on and gathered for the safety talk and at 8am wandered off to the boats to gather about 500m away for the boat start flagged by Macca. Continue reading Alliman Shield 2015 – 11th October – Kurnell

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

Alliman Shield 2015 – 13th September – Long Reef

Hello All Fellow Spearos,

The day dawned a beautiful pink promising clear skies and at Fishermen’s Beach the air was still and the sea a mirror. There was nobody around as I set the ring up but by 7:30am the place was buzzing with boats zooming in and the divers signing on. What a great day for an Alliman!

Long Reef 2015 2

The usual safety talk was given with the emphasis on diving in pairs as the many reports of shark activity had some divers nervous but as it turned out not one was seen. Just before 8am the divers made their way to the boats and putted out slowly to wait for Macca to wave his boat flag to signify the start of the competition. The boats raced away North & South! Continue reading Alliman Shield 2015 – 13th September – Long Reef

One Up One Down – USFA NSW Championships – 18 October 2015

One Up One Down

The inaugural State Championship was held at that great, usually fishy, accessible location on the Central Coast, Norah Head. A rock hop event, the location was chosen as it offers a variety of depths and fishing ground and safe leeway depending upon the prevailing wind at the time.

As I arrived at the sign on location early I had time to check out the area and was pleased that the event was safe enough to hold with just a light SE wind puffing away. I begin setting up the area when the Montgomery “brothers” arrive on the scene, talk about keen! Still 90 minutes until swim off.  Steve Montgomery had just come back from a USFA members trip to NW Island and had embraced the calm, warm and clear waters of the tropics spearing some great fish while Hayden Montgomery (no actual relation) is a frothing young spearo who at 15 has already captured an abundance of great species that many spearos even three times his age are in envy of. The two lads ripped in and helped me set up which was greatly appreciated.

Josh Green and Zane Hutchison Junior Champions

With half an hour to swim off many more “Sea Lions”, members of the local spearo club, had rocked up Bailey Ives, Zac and Pat with a mix of the usual suspects from the Sans Souci Dolphins – Mudcrab Marsh, Paz, Cohan and the Alliman and Canada Cup champion the Handsome Mexican Cruz; good to see some Neptunes from Newcastle (the Green clan) and South Coast Barracudas Joe Hyzdal, and the current NSW champion and king of the south coast Jack Lavender. Jack had really enjoyed the previous social pair event the USFA had run where he had keenly offered to swim with a young newcomer to offer many tips and techniques.

NSW Open OUOD Champions Jack Lavender and Joe Hyzdal

A briefing of the regulations was given – such as the 4 metre rope the surface diver needed to be connected to, while his dive buddy (the one under) uses a standard length rig cord, swapping to the shorter cord when it was his turn to remain on the surface, that one diver in the pair must always remain on the surface.  The restricted species sheet discussed, where only 1 only of some basic species, such as red morwong, were to be weighed in between a pair. The scoring today was 100points a fish and 10 points per kilogram, Simon Horvath very kindly took two juniors with him as we did have an odd number of divers sign on.

Mentor and Grommet Champion Simon Ross and Mal Green.

By 0800 the safety boat with pilot Joe Brennan and co-pilot Nathan Gradidge had launched Al Cooke’s beautiful Haines 600r (a big thanks for lending your tub for the day Al), and we had twenty three of the keenest spearos in NSW signed on, briefed and ready to brave very difficult diving conditions. There was an unusually strong current mixed with cool, dirty water that belied the calm surface conditions and thus for the first time in my memory in a comp every competitor was back well before finishing time.

The hard luck stories are always worth listening to, for a laugh, though I did feel sorry for young Jay Bain and his early exit from the competition due to losing a fin in swimming through some surf attempting to spear a huge Bream that was on dry land, I know, you will have to ask him yourself.

OUOD537Lachy Green towed his dad Phil around all day, or was it the other way around? Depended on which Green was telling the story.  The father and son team came across a nest of bugs and had 4 splendid specimens in their keeper bag. Another father and son team was Rabbit Kyle and his 10 year old son Max, Max is beyond keen and they brought in some nice fish, Max landing two great Red Rockies himself and they looked likely to take out the Grommet section until another Green member, the youngest, Malakai and his mentor buddy Simon Ross brought in the same amount of fish with just a slightly heavier total bag.

Aaron Puckeridge and his float towing partner himself a former NSW champion like Aaron, Ben Bayfield, had an indifferent day and they brought in 5 fish as well, they were both pleased to see an esky and hot meat pies at the weigh in. Josh Green the biggest and probably the ugliest of the Green siblings, and his great mate Zane Hutchison weighed a good swag with 8 fish and they looked the winners as the last group to weigh in arrived, Jack and Joe from the ‘Cudas, they presented a smaller weight though with 9 fish to edge ahead of the Newcastle juniors to be crowned the inaugural NSW One Up One Down Pairs champions.

Class Diver Points
Golden Oldie Joe Hyzdal 980
Silver Oldie Phil Green 538
Junior Champion Josh Green & Zach Hutchison 887
Open Champion Jack Lavender & Joe Hysdal 980
2nd Open Josh Green & Zane Hutchison 887
3rd Open Aaron Puckeridge & Benny Bayfield 550
Largest Fish Rock Blackfish – Cohan Jones 3075gm
Convenor’s Choice Bream – Hayden Montgomery 1150gm
Sportsman’s Award Simon Horvath

Young blokes going hard on the dogs eyes

This event will continue, as will its more social format where the younger and new USFA members are teamed up with experienced spearfishers who pass on valuable expertise to their allotted partner.

The overwhelming feedback form the divers repeat several key points:

“It’s definitely safer”

“I relax so much more knowing my buddy is over me, my diving just naturally improves”

“Far more enjoyable way of spearfishing a comp”

“So relaxing having someone right there with you”

“I love it when I see my partner stuff up”

It is a given that when you are relaxed and confident you are going dive better, it’s a given if your buddy is slightly at higher level than you that you will be drawn up to his level by diving with him it’s a given that diving one up one down with your surface buddy right there watching your every dive is safer, it’s also a given that it is great to share experiences with your mates who are right there to witness what you saw.

Looking forward to diving in the next one. Date out soon, keep January open.

Simon Trippe

You can find the Rules and check out what you need to know at

Alliman Shield 2015 – 2nd August – Bayview

The day dawned perfect for the sixth round of the Alliman Shield  2015 at Bayview. Forty two divers and fourteen boats gathered on the beach on a rather mild winter’s morning and after the safety talk and the sign on the boats made their way up the channel into Pittwater and then out in the open ocean, although some hit the estuary first.

Alliman 2015 Aug Bayview

The water was a cold 13 degrees celsius at Bayview and around 17 in the ocean around the bend after Barrenjoey Point. Continue reading Alliman Shield 2015 – 2nd August – Bayview

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.
The USFA can also be alerted to assist via our Contact Us page. Please address the Secretary
Peter Walsh
USFA Vice President

Alliman Shield 2015 – 14th June – Gunnamatta Bay

The day dawned calm and conditions looked terrific for the fourth competition of the 2015 Alliman Shield competition year. The boats & competitors arrived late (bloody winter!) but the sign on, safety talk & roll call went quickly and the divers made their way down to the boats only a few minutes after 8am.Alliman-Shield-2015-Gunnamatta-1


Continue reading Alliman Shield 2015 – 14th June – Gunnamatta Bay

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.


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.


From:   Illawarra Mercury Friday 9 May 1947 pg.1

One that didn’t get away – Record Black Bream


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


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


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


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).


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

Alliman Shield 2015 – 12th April – Little Manly

6:45am one week after daylight saving ended dawned dark and grey at Little Manly cove as the boats gathered on the beach as the ring was put up and the tables set up for the weigh in later in the day.
Alliman Shield 2015 - Little Manly 2
Forty three divers signed up for the competition including that old stalwart Trippey from the Dolphins who was seen shaking out mothballs out of his dive gear. There was a lot of talk and catching up and it was good to see a new breed of young guns from the North Shore Seahawks that a forming a good team.

Alliman Shield 2015 - Little ManlyThe safety talk was conducted and everyone made their way from the reserve to the boats and a few minutes before 8am the boats made their way out slowly to the gathering point outside the cove ready for the flag start from Emanuel’s big R.I.B.

The flag was waved and the boats made their way in all directions some up the harbour and the rest out to sea.

The conditions were quite ordinary with a strong Southerly wind blowing and a nasty sloppy chop making things uncomfortable. Coupled with this was an ordinary 6m to 8m cloudy visibility with a lot of particles throughout the water. Nevertheless the conditions were still very spear able and the fish that came into the weigh in was proof of this. Continue reading Alliman Shield 2015 – 12th April – Little Manly

One Up One Down – USFA Inaugural Pairs Meet – 31st May 2015

Adreno Spearfishing Supplies

What a great day was had! Twenty eight divers, of all ages, and locations along the coast rocked up to the Dolphin’s club house to sign on for the first USFA One Up One Down Pairs meet.  No one left disappointed, the diving saw to that, yet even before a fin was dipped in the water spearos were showing obvious signs of stoke. MopheadPassing over their fifteen bucks to register for the event and being handed a trucker cap, T -shirt and Stubby cooler all embossed with great sponsor Adreno’s logo on them, spearos were incredulously asking “…What, we are given these, and we get a beer and are fed for fifteen bucks?!? Awesome!!”  Hell yeah!

“Awesome” continued to be the exclamation of the day after everyone came back to the club house after the dive. More on that soon. Continue reading One Up One Down – USFA Inaugural Pairs Meet – 31st May 2015

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

1959 1st December


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.


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


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.

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

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


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


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.

Alliman Shield – 1st March 2015 – Kurnell Botany Bay

It dawned a perfect day for the second round of the Alliman Shield. The sky was clear and the wind light as the forty three intrepid divers signed on for the 8am start. The safety talk was given and the divers signed off then all made their way to the beach and into their boats and all made their way out towards the heads, although I noticed a few of the sneakier divers stopping off at places like Watts Reef & Bare Island Bommie to get the estuary species.

The water visibility was surprisingly good as it has been very ‘green’ in recent weeks. Generally there was a layer of dirty water but once under it opened up to a clearish 8-19 metres of good fishy water.

The end of the competition was at 1:15pm and most of the boats were back in plenty of time. All Clubs organised their weigh in teams and the scoring was started soon after the finish time. Some great fish were presented including an 11.67kg Cobia taken by North Shores Phil Sheppard who said he found the fish somewhere south of Marley lying on the sand in 10m of water, why don’t things like this happen to me! Phil also got a nice bream that went 1.1kgs. Evan Leeson (SSD) showed his class with the biggest fish of the day a 12.67kg kingfish and a beautiful 2.69kg Samson Fish. His Sans Souci brother Ben Bayfield with a stunning 1.485kg snapper and a thumper 2.090kg dusky flathead. Eleven year old George Manolias shows he is going to be a great spearo with a 1.245kg Salmon and a 715g goatfish. Some other good fish pictured were a pair of nice flathead taken by San Soucis Alex and Scott weighing 1.725kg & 2.465kg respectively. The Dragons old gun Rob ‘No Tears’ got a 995gm tarwhine and a 1.050kg king wrasse, both very good fish. Continue reading Alliman Shield – 1st March 2015 – Kurnell Botany Bay

Canada Cup 2015

CanadaCup2015-01The 63rd hosting of the Canada cup was held on Sunday the 8th of March 2015 at the beautiful Terrigal Haven on the Central Coast of New South Wales .  It’s always scary when your organising a comp wondering what the weather is going to do on the day.  With large swells and strong winds leading up to the comp the weather gods came through and produced a perfect day with flat seas and light winds all day.  It certainly is a relief to the event organizers when the comp can be run as scheduled with fantastic conditions where it’s safe and enjoyable diving for every competitor. Continue reading Canada Cup 2015

LOOK OUT Divers About

LOOK OUT Divers About
LOOK OUT Divers About logo from NSW Maritime Management Centre

The current Dive Safe campaign by Roads and Maritime Services NSW “LOOK OUT Divers About” is to be applauded. The confusion surrounding the role of the alpha flag in Australia is slowly unravelling and now a distinct message is being sent to all skippers in NSW on what to look out for – Divers – on the surface – can be up to 100m from their float/flag. Steer clear.

Let’s jump back to the old argument of the “red and white diver flag” v “Alpha” flag and what they really mean. The traditional diver-down red and white flag was developed by divers (overseas) in 1957.  Yet for many people in

Alpha Flag (left), Diver Down Flag (right)
Alpha Flag (left), Diver Down Flag (right)

Australia the “Alpha” flag means “diver below” yet this is what the red and white diver down flag means. Perhaps the biggest difference between the two is that the traditional red & white diver-down flag is intended to protect divers themselves, while the blue & white alpha flag is intended to protect vessels from collision.  Continue reading LOOK OUT Divers About

USFA welcomes Adreno sponsorship

The USFA has been working solidly to engage Australian Spearfishing Retailers and Suppliers to develop a more structured level of support for our USFA Social Projects and Major Competitions.

Traditionally, individual competition and event conveners needed to approach these suppliers independently for individual donated goods to supply the event prize pool. By taking this new united approach, the USFA will now negotiate a collective sponsorship and distribute the prizes in a more professional, efficient and organised fashion with greater benefit to all.

As in the past, the USFA does not endorse any one particular vendor. Many suppliers were contacted and several negotiations are still underway. All offers of support are welcomed and will be considered on their merit.

We are pleased to announce that Adreno Spearfishing Supplies is the first Retailer to offer a generous sponsorship package to go towards both the USFA Social calender and Major 2015 Competitions. The USFA deeply thanks Adreno for their contribution and looks forward to a mutually beneficial future.

Further negotiations are underway with other merchants and the USFA looks forward to passing these vast benefits onto members in return for your continued membership and participation.

You can find Adreno Spearfishing Supplies here:

Adreno Spearfishing Supplies

Dive Safe

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

We’ve sunk the Boat!

It was New Years Eve in 1995 when Mark Colys and Zane O’Brien phoned me up. They were camped at Park Beach Caravan Park, Coffs Harbour, for their annual holidays with family. Mark and Zane were keen for a dive on New Years Day.

I had met Mark down at the National Titles in Eden in 1994, one year earlier (which he won).  It was over 1,000kms drive each way to the Aussie Championships, so I talked my good mate Wally Gibbins from Sawtell into accompanying me for some companionship.

I was living at Sandy Beach, NSW, and the long drive to Eden was one never to be forgotten with Wally as Co-pilot, and Ted Lehman from Sydney also. The stories that Wally told us in great detail of his adventures in the Solomon Islands – how he salvaged all the scrap bronze propellers he could from wartime wrecks, to how he and the natives collected tons of both live and dead ammunition from the sea floor for sale – seemed to be both adrenalin filled, and endless. Wally was to spear-fishing, what Zane Grey was to game-fishing – a pioneer sportsman, avid storyteller, and adventurer the likes of which we may never see again on the planet. Continue reading We’ve sunk the Boat!

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.

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

Alliman Shield 2015

January – Gunnamatta – Results
February – Bayview – Cancelled
March – KurnellApril – Little ManlyResults
May – Watsons Bay – Cancelled
June – Gunnamatta – Results
July – No Competition
August – Bayview – Results
September – Long Reef – Results
October – Kurnell – Results
November – Port Kembla – Cancelled
December – Gunnamatta – Results including end of year results

2015 End of Year Alliman Shield Results

Congratulations to:

Individual placings:

1st – Derrick Cruz
2nd – Gunther Pfrengle
3rd – Evan Leeson

B Grade – Ben Favorito
C Grade – Cohan Jones
D Grade – Jarod McKenzie

Grand Master – Patrick Mullins
Master – Gunther Pfrengle
Veteran – Gary Baxter
Senior – Derrick Cruz
Intermediate – Aaron Puckeridge
Junior – Cameron Gall
Sub Junior – Jarod McKenzie

Congratulations to:
Sans Souci Dolphins for winning the Alliman Shield & most species
St George Sea Dragons – winning Four Mans Teams

Most Meritorious – Alex Lewis with the great Dusky Flathead – 166 points
Intermediate – Peter Kemp – Coral Trout – 152 points. 2nd time one has been speared in Sydney. 1st being Derrick Cruz earlier in the year also in the Alliman comp.
Sub Junior – Brad McKenzie – Silver Travally – 91 points

So many more categories to list, go take a look at the results.

Grade Changes for 2016


++ up two grades
+ up one grade
– down one grade

A Grade

Ben Favorito +

B Grade

Tom Rasdall –
Malcolm Murphy –
Cohan Jones +
Paul Marsh +
Parry Gryllis +
Jarrod McKenzie ++
Peter Kemp ++

C Grade

Thomas Mercer +
Justin Delaney +
Brad McKenzie +
Jamie Hutton +
Tony Couchman +
Cenk Alper +
Dom Falconer +
Adam O’Neill +
Martyn Kieselbach +


The Underwater Scene

1951 January

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

Alliman Shield – 2014 December – Gunnamatta & End of Year

It dawned a beautiful day last Sunday for the last competition for the year The Alliman Shield – 2014 December. 59 divers gathered at the pavillion at Gunnamatta bay looking forward to the days competition. Little did they know as the were putting up the channel that the diving conditions would be very ordinary indeed with very dirty water, a sloppy Nor-east swell, cold water and a scarcity of fish (You were the smart one Trippey).

A few fish came in the pick being:

Alliman dec 02
Two nice Kingfish by the SSD boys Zack Dredge & Adam O’Neill with 10kg & 14kg respectively


The St George boys redeemed themselves with ‘No Tears’ getting a nice trevally of 1.37kg
The St George boys redeemed themselves with ‘No Tears’ getting a nice trevally of 1.37kg

Shaun Pyne with the only flathead weighed in
Shaun Pyne with the only flathead weighed in

Continue reading Alliman Shield – 2014 December – Gunnamatta & End of Year

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.

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

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

USFA of NSW Foundation Members

April 1948


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

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,
57 Lagoon Street, Narrabeen

47 The Avenue, Hurstville

2015 USFA Executive Committee

Underwater Skindivers & Fisherman’s Association Inc. office bearers:

Office Person
President Peter Saunders
Vice President Peter Walsh
Secretary Nic Williams
Assistant Secretary Vacant
Treasurer Kevin Saw
Assistant Treasurer Lee Dalli
Membership Officer Lee Dalli
Accreditation Peter Walsh
Sports Secretary Paul Marsh
Events Coordinator Alby Cooke
Webmaster & Social Media Sam Krywulycz
Magazine Officer Lee Dalli, Gordon Black
Fundraising Officer Jason De Oca Montes
Grants Coordinator Sascha Schulz
Online Solutions Officer Nigel Sirisomphone
Historical Officer Mel Brown
Strategic Planning Officer Peter Walsh
Public Officer Dallas Davies
Public Affairs Officer Peter Saunders
Safety & Education Officer Simon Trippe
Recognised Training Officer Simon Trippe
Spearfishing Records Officer Ryan Schulter
Data & Research Officer Bob Mcoomb
Endangered Species Officer Matthew Poulton
Environment Officer Vacant
Marine Advisory Councils Officer Oliver Wady
Marine Parks Liaison (Far North – Coffs) Ray Powell
Marine Parks Liaison (Far North – Byron Bay) Ray Powell
Marine Parks Liaison (North) Dallas Davies
Marine Parks Liaison (Central) Matthew Pulton
Marine Parks Liaison (South – Jervis Bay) Oliver Wady
Marine Parks Liaison (South – Batemans Bay) Ric Cumming
Members Liaison Vacant
Recreational Fishing Alliance (RFA) Representative Matthew Poulton

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Should I join the USFA? I’ve been diving for years without being a member.

By joining the USFA you will be becoming a member of an organisation that is putting all its efforts into improving spearfishing for everyone. We are constantly looking for ways to improve and give more back to our members. Diver safety and development are high on our priority list along with protecting our rights to spearfish all along our wonderful coast. By becoming a member you will not only have the right people in fighting for your rights politically but you will also have access to all these resources and programs. You will also be protected by our insurance policy. Check out our Insurance section for more information.

You don’t have to be a member, but we sure want you! The more members we have, the stronger we are and the more we can do together to protect and build the sport we love!

What is this ‘Insurance’ and why do I need it?

Go to our Insurance section on this website for specific, up to date information on our policy and how it protects you.

How do I find the closest club to me?

Go to the Club section of this website and look at the list of clubs and the areas they are from. Feel free to call or contact any of the clubs to ask questions and find out when their next meeting is so you can go along.

What if I am not interested in comps. Isn’t the USFA just for serious competition divers?

Absolutely not. The USFA is there for all Spearfishers, regardless of your skill level or experience. We are currently initiating many new programs catering for social spearfishers. Check out our Kingfish Cup and our Outstanding Capture Awards. Don’t forget to keep an eye on our Events Calendar for upcoming Social Meets, Information Sessions and Awards Nights. And if you have other great ideas, we want to hear them!

What are the USFA doing about protecting the sport of spearfishing?

Firstly, we are building our membership so that we can demonstrate that we are a united group of like minded spearfishers who are safe, sustainable and sensible. We have experienced members who represent us on advisory councils and government committees fighting for our rights. We educate, coordinate and encourage submissions from our members on Marine Parks and other issues when they are called for so that we are properly represented when decisions are made.

Finally, by promoting, encouraging and supporting our members to follow our Code of Conduct we are, by ourselves, protecting our sport by example. Reaching out to fellow spearfishers and mentoring them in the same values is the greatest thing we can do.

Be the change you want to see in this sport!!

If you have more questions you would like answered, please contact us for an immediate response!

Selecting a Spearfishing Charter

Selecting a Spearfishing Charter

So you are thinking about heading off on a spearfishing charter to shoot the fish of a lifetime?  They do not come cheap and you don’t want to miss out on that perfect opportunity to shoot yor dream fish.  So which charter do you choose?  How do you know what to look for and what to expect?  James Sakker sits down and gives you a full run down on just what you need to look out for and how to prepare.

Selecting a Spearfishing Charter
James Sakker

Selecting a Speargun

Selecting a Speargun

Selecting the right speargun for you is one of the most important decisions you will make when you are starting out.  By the time you are finished your diving career you will have an untold number of guns.  But it is your first gun that you need to get right.  There are many factors that will influence your choice of guns such as where you live and the style of diving you will be doing.  For instance a 1.4m Carbon gun is not ideal for shooting a feed of fish around your local headland, and in the same way, heading out to bluewater with a 90cm pranger gun is not going to cut it.  So what do you choose?  James Sakker talks to Todd from Coffs Coast Spearfishing and looks at all the choices and gives some very useful advice.

Selecting a Speargun
James Sakker

Jewfish Tips

Jewfish Tips

Finding and Shooting the elusive Mulloway or Jewfish can be one of the hardest things for a spearfisherman to tickoff the ‘Bucket List’.  Knowing just where to look and how to approach and shoot these fish are what every spearo wants to know.  So when James Sakker, an accomplished Jewfish hunter, offers some tips and a video on how to go about the business of catching Jewies, he has everyone’s attention.

Make sure you watch this video more than twice paying attention to the terrain, depth and techniques used.

Jewfish Tips
James Sakker

Lobster Tips

Lobster Tips

Finding and catching lobsters can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of spearfishing and your time in the water.  Not only are they exceptional to eat, but the ladies love a man who can put lobster on the table….every week!

Ths being the case we have one of NSW’s most experienced and skilled lobster hunters, James Sakker, to guide you through all there is to know about lobsters and how how to catch them.

Tieing Speargun Rubbers
James Sakker

Tieing Rubbers

Tieing Speargun Rubbers

Tieing your own speargun rubbers isa skill you will eventually need to kow how to do for yourself.  Getting the knotts right and inseting the bridle into the rubber can be quite tricky and frustrating.  In this video James Sakker talks us through the process as Todd from Coffs Coast Spearfishing show us how it is done and all the tricks to make it easy.

Catching Lobsters
James Sakker

Australian Skindivers Magazine – 2012-2014

The Australian Skindivers Magazine is a publication produced by the USFA for its members and the greater diving fraternity.  The aim is to publish articles that promote and instil the values of Safe, Sustainable, Selective and Social spearfishing.  You will find all the latest news from the political scene as well as from the clubs.  Stories and articles are also included along with tips and tricks to improve your diving technique.

Check out the links below to the previous issues for 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Australian Skindivers Magazine - Summer 2012
Australian Skindivers Magazine – Summer 2012

Australian Skindivers Magazine - Winter 2012
Australian Skindivers Magazine – Winter 2012

Australian Skindivers Magazine - Summer 2013
Australian Skindivers Magazine – Summer 2013

Australian Skindivers Magazine - Winter 2013
Australian Skindivers Magazine – Winter 2013

Australian Skindivers Magazine - Autumn 2013
Australian Skindivers Magazine – Autumn 2013

Australian Skindivers Magazine – Winter 2012

Australian Skindivers Magazine - Winter 2014
Australian Skindivers Magazine – Winter 2014

Spearfishing Safely

There are many things to consider when discussing Diver Safety. Not only are there the technical aspects of being a safe diver, but there is also the whole concept of understanding and developing a correct safe attitude and culture. The articles and content within this Diver Safety Section aim to inform as well as encourage all forms of best practice when it comes to the safety of yourself and your dive buddies.

Please ensure that SAFETY ALWAYS COMES FIRST. No fish or deep dive is worth your life. Don’t put your life on the line.

Watch this ‘Spearfishing Safely’ Video which explains the basic essential knowledge.

A guide to safe underwater fishing, from the Recreational Fishing Alliance of NSW and Underwater Skindivers and Fisherman’s Association.

This video was produced with the support of:
NSW Recreational Fishing Saltwater Trust Expenditure Committee
NSW Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing
Industry & Investment NSW
Communities NSW

The production of this video would not have been possible without the assistance of many individuals:
Erez Beatus, Alex Lewis, Andrew Harvey, Garth Byron, Paul Roso, Ian Puckeridge, Jason Montes de Oca, Brett Vercoe, Shane Fitzmaurice, Tim Wilson, Matthew Okkanen, Chris Cuthbertson, Andrew Davis, Rick Trippe, Simon Trippe, Alan Forbes, Tom Holland, Ben Elliot, Emily Gleeson, James Sakker, Peter Saunders, Peter Walsh

Additional footage and materials were generously provided by:
Jason Montes de Oca – Huffy productions
Brett Vercoe – Liquid Focus
Shane Fitzmaurice – Breathtaking films
Tim Wilson
Wilso Films

Special thanks to Erez Beatus. For more info on freediving technique and safety contact: Apnea Australia http://

Boat Safety

Launching a boat and the general area around a boat ramp can be a very hazardous place.  You have risks of slips and falls, being run over by cars and boats, getting squashed or crushed, being struck or just plain old manual handling lifting your gear and catch in and out of the boat.

Caution and safe practice is not only important launching or retrieving a boat, considerable care and safe practice must also be used whilst travelling in the boat and at sea in general.

The following Boat Safety Guide was put together by the Central Coast Sea Lions Club and details a lot of the risks and controls to be considered and managed whilst working with boats.

Please take the time to look through this quality document and then go to our Training page to sit the quiz.


Hot Smoked Fish

Hot Smoked Fish – Chi Lo

This recipe would be applicable for any nice oily fish: Mullet, Tailor, Kingy, Trev and many more.

In a tub mix:
 1L of water
 1/4 cup of soya sauce
 1/4 cup (brown or caster) sugar
 1/4 cup salt
Add any aromatics you feel like eg. Coriander seeds, pepper, fennel seeds, bay leaves, garlic cloves or chili. Ensure salt and sugar are dissolved.

Take a nice chunk/fillet of skinned fish and trim any bloodline off.

Brine the fish in the fridge for about 4 hours, ensuring it’s submerged.

Remove the fish from the fridge, pat dry with kitchen paper and lay on a cake rack above a plate in the fridge overnight. The purpose of this is to dry the surface of the fillet out. This forms a great protective layer that the smoke can permeate, but also keeps the moisture inside the fillet. When you remove it from the fridge it will have a slightly tacky surface and a nice sheen.

Set up your smoker – I use a foil lined wok with a round cake rack and a lid. I place this on a camp burner on moderate heat.

Use any wood you like (I used mesquite). I recommend using sawdust to ensure a lot of smoke quickly, given the short smoking period.

Smoke for 10 minutes for a thin fillet, 15-20 for a thick chunk (eg. kingy).

The fillet will be a beautiful mahogany colour and should be beautifully juicy inside. It took me some tries to refine the quantities in the brine so it’s not too salty, not too sweet. The drying out process overnight really helped the overall product for me.

Smoked fish can be used in a number of ways and keeps for quite awhile if you have a vac packer. Some ways of use would be smoked fish dip, thai betel leaves, smoked fish sandwiches, smoked fish and eggs, croquettes (as a substitute for spanish salted cod) and even smoked fishcakes.

Blue Swimmer Crab Linguine

Blue Swimmer Crab Linguine – Andy Wilson


  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Medium Chilli chpped minus the seeds
  • 3 Tablespoons of Chopped Parsely
  • 6 Tablespoons of good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 350gms Linguine
  • 4 Blue Swimmer Crabs boiled for 8-10mins in salt water
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Cook the crabs and pick all the meat out of them and place in a bowl. I left the meat in the claws but its not essential.
  2. Chop the Garlic, Chilli and Parsely
  3. When the pasta is almost al dente warm a pan and put 6 tablespoons of olive oil in.
  4. Once warm place in the garlic and chilli in and infuse the flavours into the oil.
  5. After a minute or so throw in the Parsely and Crab meat plus any juices from the crab meat. Mix the whole lot while warming it. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Pasta should be done now. Drain and place in a bowl.
  7. Add the crab and mix it through.
  8. A generous pour of olive oil on top. Sprinkle some fresh parsely in and squeeze a half lemon over the lot.



Fish with Creamy Green Peppercorn

Fish with Creamy Green Peppercorn Sauce – Matt Poulton

 Recipe is very simple
 half a small tub of cream
 half a can of green peppercorns squashed roughly with a fork and add a pinch of salt
 gently heat in pan
 done

Meant to be even better with some butter added. Gently heat in pan. Done

I often make it in the same pan as was used to cook the fish or venison so you get some added flavour.

Thai Fish Cakes

Thai Fish Cakes – Matt Poulton

 600gms of fish
 1 egg
 2Tbsp red curry paste
 2Tbsp fish sauce
 Small bunch or coriander
 1tsp brown sugar
 3 or 4 kaffir lime leaves sliced finely
 3 spring onions sliced

Combine all ingredients except spring onions in food processor until smooth.

Mix in spring onions.

Form into cakes with wet hands and drop into hot oil.

So easy and so tasty.


Sydney Sashimi

Sydney sashimi – Alex Taffs

You will need some boned and skinned fillets of bonito (or your choice of fish)
Wrap fish pieces tightly in glad wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours this helps to firm and set the flesh
Remove fish from glad wrap and slice thinly across the grain (I like 2-3mm thick)
Arrange the sliced fish appealing to the eye on your choice of platter
Add a generous blob of wasabi
Add a neat twirl of pickled ginger
A bowl of 75% ketchup manis and 25% soy sauce mixed
Some fresh herbs as garnish
Enjoy with a ice cold beer or white wine on a hot day – Sydney sashimi at its best.

Lime Coconut Fish Curry

Lime Coconut Fish Curry – Tim Wilson

Hey guys give this a go if you are looking for something different. Works well with most fish

3 limes
1 can coconut cream or milk
1heaped Tb cumin powder and the same of corriander seed
2-3Tb soy sauce
1Tb fish sauce
2Tb brown sugar
3-4 chopped red chilis
Skinned Fillets from a 3kgish fish
Fresh corriander
Optional – 3-5 kaffir lime Leaves Torn up

Combine all ingredients except for lime fresh corriander and fish in a bowl. Add the rind of a line to the mix and then add the fish (chopped into portions)

Marinate for as long as you have 10minutes works 2hours or more is better

Remove the fish bits and cook on a frypan. While this is happening pour the liquid into a saucepan, add the juice of 2 limes to it and heat on high reducing to a thick sauce. Taste and balance flavours as you go.

To serve place fish on a bed of steamed rice and place fish pieces on top. Pour over plenty of the sauce and top with a handful of chopped fresh corriander. Serve with a wedge of lime and enjoy!

Filleting Fish

After a great day in the ocean the laststep is to clean and prepare your catch ready for the table.

To do this, you can gut and gill your fish then scale it if cooking whole, or youcan fillet and debone your fish to be used in other recipes bone free.

In the following video put together by The Gourmet Hunters Team, Alex and Andy, you will see Andy process a nice sized Black Drummer ready for dinner.  Enjoy!

More instructional videos are coming soon!



How to Fillet a Fish
Gourmet Hunters

Chili Basil Lobster


Chili Basil Lobster – Tim Wilson

Here’s another SE Asian guaranteed winner – it does the lobster justice while breaking up the flavour


8+ Cloves of garlic – finely chopped
4-5 Long red chilis – diced
Birds eye chilis/chili flakes/hot chilis
1 onion sliced
Shallots roughly chopped
1 Large carrot – sliced
2-3 celery stalks – sliced
1 Tb Fish Sauce
1 Tb Soy Sauce
1 Tb Oyster Sauce
Small amount of chicken stock
Good handful of thai basil (holy basil or normal basil will suffice if unavailable)
2 cray tails, meat removed and cut to a size of your liking
ANything else you want to stir fry up (highly reccomend bamboo shoots)

1) Get the rice cooking
2) Put a very generous amount of oil in your wok/pan (coconut oil is really good if you have it)
3) Heat until smoking, stir fry garlic, chili and onion for about 3 minutes or until onions have just started to cook
4) Throw in shallots, celery and carrot (and other veges you want to include) – stir fry for a further minute or two
5) Add the lobster pieces, chicken stock and fish,soy and oyster sauces
6) Stir and fry until sauce has thickened and there is no/minimal liquid in the pan, and lobster is cooked through
7) Remove from the heat and stir through thai basil and hot chili’s
8) Serve on rice
9) Enjoy


Lobster Pad Thai

Lobster Pad Thai
Hello all, Here’s a recipe for many of my like minded spearo’s – if you find winter is great for crays but tire of eating them, this is a good way to use them well and get a bloody tasty and not totally sacrilegious meal out of Em.

Feeds 3 people – can easily be bulked up to feed 4 or more with some fish, chicken breast or extra veg

1.5 Tb tamarind puree
1/4 cup chicken stock
3Tb fish sauce
1Tb soy sauce
Chili powder to taste, I use about 1Tb, there is fresh Chili to be added to thepad Thai later as well
4Tb Brown Sugar

Mix all ingredients together, taste and balance flavors accordingly, when its right it will initially taste sweet and then the hot, salty and sour flavors will come afterwards. Set aside

Pad Thai
2 x crays
1 bag pad Thai rice noodles
Shallots – lots is good, 4 big ones minimum
1/2 an onion cut into pieces
2Tsp minced galangal, or ginger if you don’t have it
4 cloves of garlic minced
2 fresh red chilis (or more if you want an inferno!) Sliced thin, with seeds
1 big handful of bean sprouts
1 bigger handful of corriander
1/2 cup of finely chopped roasted peanuts
Lime or lemon wedges

1. Grab the tail of the crays and twist out, chop in half and remove meat, devein and into small pieces (5-10mm in size), set aside
2. Boil some water in a jug. Place pad Thai noodles in a saucepan and cover with boiling water. Test noodles after 3 minutes or so, when they are flexible but still have a bit of crunch to them drain then and cover with cold water to prevent further cooking
3. Place a good amount of oil in a wok or large frypan and heat till its very hot. Finely slice the Shallots and fry in hot until until they start to get some color (not a lot) and remove and set aside
4. Add more oil of needed and get wok back to temperature, add the onion and stir fry for 2 minutes or so, until it begins to turn translucent.
5. Add the cray pieces and garlic and ginger cook for around 3 minutes storing as needed until lobster is just cooked through
6. Push everything to one side and crack an egg into the wok on the empty side, chop and stir until scrambled and distribute through the rest of the ingredients (alternatively you can fry the egg in a separate pan, slice it up and put it through)
7. Add the bean sprouts, fresh Chili and drained noodles and combine everything, add about 1/4 of the pad Thai sauce, sour very gently – make sure the wok stays at temperature for this part
8. When the dish is dry add another 1/4 of the sauce and repeat- pad Thai is a dry dish, if you add to much sauce at once it won’t work.
9. Repeat until all sauce has been added, the noodles should be glossy and sticky
10. Serve on a big plate topping with the fried Shallots, peanuts and chopped corriander, give a good size of lime or lemon over the top and you are in for some happy days!

her 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.


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. 

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.


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.