Spearfishers meet the Minister

Bob McComb, Hon. Tara Moriarty, Simon Trippe, Mel Brown AM, Hon. Mark Banasiak

Thursday 30th November 

Mel Brown AM, Bob McComb and myself arrived at Parliament House to meet several politicians to discuss  spearfishing. The Hon. Robert Borsak and the Hon. Mark Banasiak who represent the Shooters and Fishers Party greeted the USFA warmly and a great discussion began about the proposed right to hunt bill, which will include us fishers and spearfishers, and will go lengths to ensure we will have the threat of lockouts extinguished.

Prepped with the confirmation that the SFP will support spearfishers (as was evidenced at the recent proposed Bongin Bongin beach sanctuary supported by the Greens) and with further understanding of the political landscape at Macquarie Street, Mark kindly took us to meet the Hon. Tara Moriarty the Minister for Agriculture (Fisheries is in the portfolio). 

This was the first time we have met the new Minister, and Tara was extremely gracious throughout the meeting. We were pleasantly surprised to have the Fisheries Deputy Director General, Sean Sloan, join our meeting online. 

Mel, Bob and I (over 100 years of spearfishing lobbying between us) discussed points of interest. Discussing topics such as:

  • the USFA advocating ethics, education, safety, inclusion, and spearfishers rights to fish for 75 years, the need for safe access for all age groups and abilities was stressed.
  • North Harbour Aquatic Reserve, where spearfishers are the only stakeholder omitted from the reserve, it was a decision made with the flick of a pen with no scientific evidence behind it, nor in 40 years has any scientific data been shown why it should be denied to us. We have requested the Reserve (there are two) particularly the areas around North Head and Dobroyd Point include spearfishing.
  • How we could work together to promote spearfishing on International Women’s Day.
  • Informing the Minister of our membership: including our newer clubs like the Orca’s who have up to 500 members involved in their club, and indigenous spearfishing club the Mulloways, all eight USFA clubs various activities were mentioned.
  • Discussed the recent Sydney Kingfish Cup with its record sign on and growth, and how we contribute to science with Fisheries biologists, giving presentations during the fanfare of the Cup, and were involved with sample collections from the Kingfish to use in their research
  • Requesting a Centre of Excellence. Providing a venue where all fishers can meet and further bond community ties, display historic items, a venue to develop future fishers and spearfishers.
  • Slot sizes and the issues spearfishers face when imposed on finfish species were discussed, spearfishing is not a trophy fishery, we requested the regulation imposed on spearfishers regarding the Dusky Flathead be reviewed and we would like to go back to the original regulation for spearfishers, that is one fish over 70cm is allowed.
  • Having an endorsed spearfishing representative, think someone who actually spearfishes and is approved of by the two NSW spearfishing associations, who will ensure transparent communications with the Minister, Fisheries and all spearfishers across NSW, keeping us abreast of current topics and arising points of interest which has been sadly lacking for several years.

Next step is to follow up with the Ministry on these points, and start the processes, we are fortunate to have the support of the Shooters and Fishers, and the Minister is happy to engage with us ongoing. Overall, an incredibly positive first meeting.

Simon Trippe, President of USFA NSW with Mel Brown AM, National Spearfishing Historian

Seventy Fifth Anniversary Celebration

Saturday 7th October

farewell Peter and may the fish rise to meet you

A big day of celebration and remembrance, where the morning saw 30 spearfishers gather on the shore of Camp Cove to celebrate the life of former USFA president Peter Saunders. People came from Queensland, Newcastle and the South Coast to remember our good friend Pete, memories about Pete and his antics, good and hilarious came out from the crowd. Alby Cooke from the Sea Lions set up a wonderful viking funeral where we walked through a corridor of saluting spearos and pushed a flaming cauldron out into the sea, cheers of “Hurrah” rang across the sea, it was a splendid start to a meaningful day.

The main event was held at the Sydney Game Fishing Club, Watson’s Bay, an excellent venue for the occassion. Speeches and recollections were given over the afternoon, highlights were the two gentleman John Wright and Kerry Heffernan who were actually present at the original meeting of spearfishers to form the USFA, 75 years earlier, they were 6 and 4 years old at the time. John could recall parts of that auspicious day, we were in awe. John and Eva Black, the only married couple to win the National Championships in the same year were in attendance, and it was great to hear Blacky regale the earlier decades of spearfishing. These memories from our elders have been passed on to the younger divers and so the stories and memories of our pioneers, as well as the importance of the Association, passes on for another generation.

Johhny Wright and Kerry Heffernan
Neville Price – Dolphins, Mick Arentz – Dragons, Russell Woods – Dolphins, Gunther Pfrengle – Dragons

I mentioned earlier this year about how and why the USFA was formed (https://usfa.org.au/happy-seventy-five-usfa/) and in the short speech I gave I specifically mentioned how the USFA of today still rings true to the actions desired of the original committe and members when forming the Underwater Spear Fishers Association, that being: Official recognition of “speargunners”; to educate the community about spearfishing; to stop safe access areas being denied to spearfishers; to enhance codes of conduct and safety; lastly, to enable those still to come to be able to spearfish in the coming decades.

Lucky winner Darren Higgins with Ray Powell of DiveR and President Simon Trippe

All in all a terrific day, enjoyed by all who attended. Too many people to thank, Annita from the Game Fishing Club, Rico for providing his amazing Paella, obviously the current USFA Committee – fantastic people all, particularly Mel Brown our National Spearfishing Historian for displaying an amazing array of Australian design and built spearfishing equipment. Thank you too for those who attended Peter’s farewell, and, the function. Too those who missed the day, well, I guess I shall see you all at the Centenary!

Oly Wady from Revesby Workers winning the Adreno prize – Ascension wetsuit. Pat Mullins and Craig Seadog

Sponsors! Thank you to our long term sponsors of USFA events – Adreno Spearfishing and Craig Seadog the Sydney store manager; Bob McComb of McComb spearguns; Ray Powell of DiveR; Manny Bova of Mannysub Roller spearguns.

McComb Speargun winner Lynton Howes of the Dolphins with former USFA President Bob McComb
Manny “Mannysub” Bova, Mel Brown National Spearfishing historian, Kerry Heffernan

Save the Date

Adreno Sydney Kingfish Cup

The Adreno Sydney Kingfish Cup is coming!

Spearos the dates this year are November the 11/12th – the second Weekend in November.  Other key dates are the awesome Information Session held at Adreno Sydney on Thursday 2nd November from 1800 (THE Spearfishing social event of the year) and of course the Presentation evening Thursday 16th November.  Details to come in a few weeks – Save these dates!

A Celebration of Life

Pete Saunders

A good friend to many of us and an outstanding advocate for spearfishing. Pete was always happy to help someone out.

On the morning of the 75th Anniversary of the USFA celebrations we are having a Viking send off for Pete. Details in the image below. Hope to see you there on the beach to honour Pete and afterwards at the Sydney Gamefishing Club to celebrate spearfishing and to a man who helped it thrive.

Clean Up 2023

It’s back at Long Bay Malabar.

Where: Malabar Beach 

“We make a living by what we get,

but we make a life by what we give”

                              -Winston Churchill-

Are you ready to give? Give back to the ocean by helping clean up Malabar beach under water and on shore? Happy to donate a few breaths and half a Sunday of your time?

Then join our annual Malabar Beach cleanup!

When: Sunday August 13th

Sign on: 08:30am

Sign off: 12:00

Bring your dive gear

Divers must bring float with flag and rigline.

It would be great if we could get two boat owners to join us to act as safety boats and garbarges.

There will be no prices this year but I have two $30 fuel vouchers for the boaties.

USFA 75th Anniversary – Save the date

Hi Spearos!,

Save the date

The Underwater Skindivers and Fisherman’s Association is celebrating 75 years this year and would like you to be a part of this celebration. 

More details to come in the following weeks. In the meantime please inform your old diving buddies from last year or last century to save the date – October 7th. 

Thank you,
On behalf of the USFA Committee
Simon Trippe

Happy Seventy Five USFA

Happy Seventy Five years to you USFA!

My mind boggles at all your members have achieved over the decades; from beginning as an action group, started by adventurous men and women “speargunners, on this day 1948, to prevent spearfishing from being banned. These energetic souls wished for official recognition of speargunners, to educate the community about spearfishing, to stop safe access areas being denied to speargunners, to enhance codes of conduct and safety and of course to enable those still to come to be able spearfish in the coming decades.

During this tumultuous post-war period when returned diggers, who had seen indigenous Pacific Islanders spearfishing, thus began turning military equipment into all forms of diving kit to enable them to catch a fish, safety was not often thought about first, nor was being physically assaulted by fishers, recreational and commercial alike, who believed these early pioneers would turn the oceans into deserts, leave alone them being arrested and placed in cells., yes this did happen. What these wonderful ambassadors for spearfishing were able to achieve is quite remarkable. Dick Charles the original President of the USFA said in this day “we band together if we want to continue spearfishing, united we survive – divided, we fall.”

On behalf of all current spearfishers in this land I wish to thank all those who have come and gone, and those here today who have contributed their time to enable spearfishing to prosper. You have indeed made it possible for future generations to enjoy this wonderful recreation and lifestyle, and we cannot thank you enough.

Simon Trippe

President

Underwater Skindivers and Fishermen’s Association NSW

Green Jobfish

Jonathan Cassell from the always progressive north coast club the Coffs Harbour Bluewater Freedivers has landed quite the fish. This amazing Green Jobfish is the new USFA NSW record and was speared in the Solitary Island group, it was 106cm long and a couple of grams over 13 kilos.

A handsome, wily, strong fighting fish Jobbies can really work your breath hold. Splendid specimens like Jonathan’s are definitely a top tier specie to land, as Jonathan expressed so well in his application, “…into the boat where we rejoiced in amazement” definitely a stoke specie, and, they are a great eating fish too.

Coff’s Harbour is known as the gateway in NSW for the warmer water species and with this great mix of reef and pelagic species some amazing spearfishing both on and off the shore can occur, it is well worth visiting the Solitary Islands Marine Park you will enjoy the experiences the water will give you.