The Code of Conduct for spearfishing in NSW and information about caring for the environment has been developed as a minimum standard. The aim is to ensure that all spearfishers are aware of the high standard of behaviour expected.

Preservation of the marine environment and the sport are mutual objectives.This code applies to all members of the USFA. It is intended to discourage certain types of unacceptable behaviour which may discredit the sport of spearfishing. Serious cases, such as members willingly engaged in illegal activities, may result in penalties including suspension or expulsion. Please become familiar with this handbook and the Codes of Conduct.

  • Consider the safety of yourself and other people at all times.
  • Know and at all times practice the Spearfishing and Freediving safety rules and principles in this booklet.
  • Respect our marine life by never taking more game than for your immediate personal needs.
  • Respect our marine life by never killing unwanted game.
  • Know and at all times obey boating regulations including:
    • Carrying required safety equipment
    • Navigating safely at all times
    • Care when anchoring
  • Know and at all times obey NSW fisheries regulations including:
    • Hold a current NSW recreational fishing fee receipt
    • Size limits for certain species
    • Bag limits
    • Bans on the taking of protected species
    • Ban on the sale of fish by recreational fishermen
    • Closure of certain areas to spearfishing and other forms of fishing
  • Guard our seas from law breakers by reporting suspicious or illegal activity to the proper authorities.
  • Always co-operate with regulatory authority officers performing their duty.
  • Show consideration towards other water users pursuing their own recreation.
  • Clean your catch at a designated cleaning area or away from general public areas.
  • Whenever you go diving never leave your rubbish behind.
  • Never act in a way which results in public disfavour towards our sport or our organisation.
  • Maintain 50 metres distance from anglers, where it is safe to do so.


Reported sightings indicate that the population of Grey Nurse Sharks may be on the increase. To protect the species for future generations of divers to enjoy, please adhere to the USFA Code of Conduct for Grey Nurse Sharks.

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. 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 flash light 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. (This may include the tagging process to establish movements or initiatives such as the Great Australian Shark count)
  • 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.

Grey Nurse Sharks are best recognised by their almost equally-sized dorsal fins and are not normally dangerous. Grey nurse sharks are a critically endangered species and protected by law.


Rules governing protected species apply to all recreational fishers. This code of conduct for protected species aims to further enforce these regulations within the spearfishing community and similarly educate divers on the importance of preservation.

NSW DPI have an Action Programme which includes a Protected Species sighting form

Ongoing evidence is required on the quantities and areas where Grey Nurse Sharks abound in order to assess their current threatened species status. Members are encouraged to report any sightings of protected and threatened species.

Information includes:

  • Specie, sex and number sighted.
  • Locality (specific as possible).
  • Date and time.
  • Sea and Weather Conditions.
  • Water depth, visibility & temperature.
  • Size and behaviour.

This code of conduct applies to all USFA members. Members will make themselves familiar as to what species are “protected” in NSW and classified as “threatened” (i.e. vulnerable or endangered) according to the provisions of the NSW DPI Management Act 1994. See NSW DPI Members will not knowingly disturb protected or threatened species or their habitat. Members will try to educate those who may not otherwise be aware of the regulations.

Refer to the Protected Species section on this site for more specific information.