Spearfishing in Bermuda
What to expect
Spear Fishing in Bermuda is becoming increasingly popular. Many locals have been diving for the large fishes for decades. After all Bermuda water is home for the largest rockfish in the world and that too in plenty. One of the great water areas for spearfishing in Bermuda is the Argus Bank which is about 25 miles off the western end of the island. The water here is over 200 feet deep. There are of course several other offshore reef areas that are equally great.
The calm and warm deep blue waters in the reef areas that are not too far away from the shoreline, are ideal for such spearfishing. Some of the target fish includes hog fish, snapper, porgies, jack, groupers and rock fish. There are also lots of white and blue Marlins in Bermuda waters. You will also get lobsters during September to March. However spearfishing lobsters is prohibited in Bermuda.
During the Marine Locker Annual Spearfishing event, Bermuda first broke the word spearfishing record when Graham Cooper landed an 84 pound black grouper in April 2011. However, in couple of months the record was broken in Mexico. It has been again brought back to Bermuda by Craig Copik who landed an 87.3 pound rockfish in 2012.
As you go out to the deep water and dive, you can in fact see around 15 to 20 rockfish of large sizes in a day. Such has been the population of the large fish in Bermuda waters. However there are several restrictions of Spearfishing in Bermuda.
One needs a license from Bermuda's Department of Environment and Natural Resources License Office which is located at Botanical Gardens, 169 South Road, Paget. Phone: (441) 236-4201. Presently this license is issued only to residents of Bermuda and not to foreigners. The license fee is $130. The license is issued with a validity up to August 31st every year. There is a license application form which needs to be filled up and you can find that form online here.
Those who are already holding spearfishing license, they need to submit their spearfishing activities (statistics) at the end of every month. Unless the previous statistics are submitted, a new license won't be issued.
One can not use scuba diving gears or any other breathing apparatus while diving for spearfishing in Bermuda waters. So it is important that the divers have ability to free-dive without any gears and hold the breath for several minutes under the water. Many local divers of Bermuda have undergone diving skills training from representatives of Freediving International. Several of them are able to now dive to a depth of 100 feet in one breath.
However there are also major risks associated with free diving. One can collapse if one is trying to hold the breath for too long. Copik, the record holder of Spearfishing from Bermuda has been able to dive up to 116 feet and hold his breath for about 5 minutes.
It is illegal to spearfish within one mile of Bermuda's shoreline or a protected water area such as the North Rock Reefs. So it is illegal to spearfish in the harbors, bays or on the south shore.
Spear guns or Hawaiian slings are not allowed in Bermuda. Poles are allowed but with certain restrictions. For example, one can catch and take away only up to 2 fishes of any one species per day, and the speared fish can not be sold. Additionally you can not spearfish lobsters.
Visitors' Reviews and Comments
Francois St-Denis (April 2017)
Good day to you from Canada, I've read that only Bermuda residents can buy a spearfishing license. How does it work for a tourist like me visiting for 2 week period at the end of July of this year? Can I use one from a resident that take me on his boat?
Raj (bermuda-attractions.com) April 2017
Hi, yes Spearfishing license is issued only to residents of Bermuda. While as a visitor you are not allowed to spearfish independently, you may be able to join a Bermudian with a license. I suggest you contact the fisheries wardens on 705-3474 or 293-5600, or send an e-mail to [email protected]
to get the details.