By the 1970s, the spearfishing space was no longer the fast-growing, still young thing known to be just a few decades earlier. It was now established. The common themes going forward were government and regulatory control.
Government and Regulatory Activity
The government went further in its oversight of the spearfishing space. The government did this by introducing several legislations, regulations, and rules governing various areas of spearfishing. These regulations and legislations ranged from placing limits on bags and quantity to banning gears.
However, these regulations were not imposed by direct government forces alone. Spearfishing was now a standalone industry. This warranted that the occasional government would not be enough to properly oversee and manage the activities going on in the industry. This warranted the establishment of specialist organisations to oversee the way things were done in the spearfishing space.
One of such organisations is the NSW Underwater Federation. The federation was charged with regulating all human activity that had to do with life underwater. This invariably included spearfishing. In fact, spearfishing and its counterpart, diving, were by far the most popular underwater games or sports at that particular time. These organisations had the power also to stipulate controls and legislations.
The Federal Parliament outlawed the use of snorkel as fishing gear. In March 1970, based on some experts’ testimonies, it was established that the snorkel had dangerous and harmful tendencies and that some fishermen had drowned using it in the past. Then-Prime Minister, Gorton, agreed to the ban.
Then, in 1973, another very notable legislation was the placement of limits on the quantity of red morwong that a single person could fish. The limit was placed at a maximum of five pieces in a single day. The reasons were quite understandable.
A lot of fish species were disappearing at a quite fast pace. It only took a few years for some fish to become non-existent. The red morwong stood that risk as well. To prevent this, the government had to step in.
This was due to several factors. For one, the red morwong is quite rare. You cannot find it in any other regions apart from Australia and New Zealand. It is also highly demanded as a delicacy.
If the government allowed it to be consumed unchecked, it might not take long before there is a shortage of precious fish species.
There is also the case of environmental stability. Every organism and species has a role it plays in ensuring the stability of the environment. Thus it means the inexistence of some of those species meant some instability in the environment.
In the 1970s, there happened to be a pushback by some persons against what they saw as too much conservation bias in the overall fishing industry. Their argument was based on the fact that the conservation drive and policies, which the government was agreeing to, we’re hurting the industry. This was particularly true of the recreational fishing industry, especially spearfishing.
They posited that the act of spearfishing for recreational purposes only led to the loss of few fish. They further expounded that the nutritional value and commercial activity generated by spearfishing sports benefited society and the economy.