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

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

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

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.


Loosing a mate to the sport you love

It wasn’t easy waking up to hear reports that a spearfisher had been struck by a boat back home. It was early one morning, while I was holidaying at Surfers Paradise QLD, when I heard on the radio that a spearfisher had been struck by a boat off the coast of Currarong on the NSW South Coast. I immediately woke to grab my phone and started the frantic calls to check if it was one of my dive buddies. Three out of Four answered their phone. One phone went through to message bank.

I hopped online, switched on the TV and started looking for information. An hour had passed and I still didn’t have a return call. I had a gut feeling that he was gone. FaceBook started to wake up and many posts started appearing in the online spearfishing fraternity trying desperately to find information. It was about half an hour later that I read on a mates wall “R.I.P” posted by a friend. It was now obvious to me, that the worse had happened to one of my good dive mates.

The day passed with many thoughts, mainly all the times that we went diving together and all the early morning calls that I would get, nagging me to go diving. Its only now that I am thankful that I did drag myself out of bed and go have a dive.

Months passed before I got back into the water. It was only then that I realised the dangers of diving. I had numerous close calls before with boats, but never really thought anything of it.
We were a drop in the ocean, I thought. We would have to be in the wrong place, at the wrong time, in the wrong 30cm x 30cm section of water, I thought. It would never happen to me or a mate, I thought. Oh how wrong I was.

Even though he was using a float and flag, was experienced and knew the area well, he still died.

At the time of writing, just over a year has passed. A day does not go by without the thought of a good mate passing away. I hope that this short life experience of mine at least gets one of you to use a float and flag, dive with a buddy and keep a damm good lookout.

I wish no one to go through the pain that I did. I wish that everyone in the ocean could work in harmony. Please keep the rules of diving at the forefront of every breath and dive safe.

Sambas and Blackouts

Shallow water blackout is a loss of consciousness caused by cerebral hypoxia towards the end of a breath-hold dive in water typically shallower than five metres (16 feet), when the swimmer does not necessarily experience an urgent need to breathe and has no other obvious medical condition that might have caused it. It can be caused by taking several very deep breaths, or hyperventilating, just before a dive. Victims are often established practitioners of breath-hold diving, are fit, strong swimmers, and have not experienced problems before.

Samba is a loss of motor control. It is a partial loss of physical or mental integrity and generally occurs up to 15 seconds after reaching the surface, normally during your first breath after a dive. It happens due to not having enough oxygen in your brain.

Watch this video on Sambas and Blackouts by Erez Beatus an AIDA Freediving Instructor and Judge, Former Freediving Coach for Israel and Former Freediving World Record Holder.

Thankyou and credit to the North Shore Underwater Club and Erez for this essential and valuable safety video.