Indigenous Australians developed one of the most sustainable sustainable civilisations the world has ever seen. They have have been practicing spearfishing for thousands of years as a means to feed the family. In more recent years spearfishing has developed as a recreational pastime and a serious sport. It's a very selective sustainable fishing method as you can choose the species and size of fish that is targeted and only take what you need.
In Melbourne and Victoria spearfishing is done while freediving, also known as apnea diving, skindiving and snorkelling. Freediving involves holding your breath and descending underwater without the use of scuba equipment. It's important you are a competent freediver if you wish to go spearfishing.
It's legal to use compressed air, i.e. scuba gear, while you spearfish in Victoria. (It's illegal in most other states.) However, it's considered poor form by serious spearfishers and spearfishing clubs.
An awesome video showing spearfishing in Melbourne by James James.
Spearfishing is a relatively safe and an effective means of catching a feed of fresh fish. You can freedive to catch lobster, abalone and scallops, but it's illegal to use a spear or speargun.
Join a spearfishing club and you'll be provided with practical and regular helpful information on how, where and when to go spearfishing. Spearfishing clubs have regular club meetings, competitions, guest speakers, information nights and, most importantly, dives. Participating in a spearfishing club is a way of learning the basics on spearfishing and fast tracking your learning curve.
Note: If your spearfishing club isn't listed here, please provide us with the details and we'll add it.
A great place to start spearfishing is in the protection of calm bays, as opposed to the open ocean. In Victoria, locations around Port Philip such as Mornington, Black Rock, Indented Head, offer safe entry level locations. Once you become comfortable in Port Phillip, try areas such as the Mornington Peninsula back beaches, Phillip Island, and areas along the West Coast such as Apollo Bay and Port Fairy.
The basic minimum gear requirements include a mask, snorkel, fins, pointed tip spearfishing dive knife, gloves, Hawaiian sling or spear gun, plus divers float (complete with alpha flag and tow rope).
Wetsuits are optional depending on water temperatures and how long you plan to spend in the water. Wetsuits used for spearfishing in Victoria are generally between 3 mm and 5mm thick. Some are one-piece suits, and others are two piece suits. Some of the two-piece suits have a long-john for the pants where they come up over the chest and shoulders. Such suits thus have double the thickness over the body core making them much warmer.
You you will need a weight belt to compensate for the buoyancy of the wetsuit neoprene. Be careful not to use too much weight as this can be very dangerous.
More advanced gear can be added depending on the exact type of spearfishing being done.
Spear fishing is permitted in some Victorian marine waters only. The use or possession of a spear gun or a hand-held spear, in, on or next to any inland water is prohibited. The use of any spear or spear gun to take rock lobster is prohibited.
The use or possession of a spear gun, Hawaiian sling or hand-held spear is prohibited:
See Using equipment in marine waters for more details.
You need a current fishing licence. This can be obtained from Fisheries Victoria either online now (cheapest way), or from many DEDJTR offices and selected recreational fishing licence outlets throughout Victoria, including most retail fishing tackle stores. We suggest you save a picture copy of your licence on your smart phone once purchased. Some people laminate a hard copy and carry it with them. For full details, see Fishing Licence.
Like all marine activities, it is essential that you adhere to safety procedures while spearfishing. The basics are:
See also Spear Safe, a national initiative to improve safety for Australian spearfishers.
SpearSafe DVD part 2
We have a database of some 350+ dive sites, see Dive Sites. Please help us by letting us know which ones are suitable for spearfishing. Then we will tag them accordingly so that they will list on the Melbourne Spearfishing Sites web page.
Please note: We DO NOT hire out masks, snorkels, fins, dive socks, gloves, hoods or vests for spearfishing.