INTERNATIONAL UNDERWATER SPEARFISHING ASSOCIATION
Spearfishing World Record Rules
Since 1950, the International Underwater Spearfishing Association (IUSA) has been
the custodian of the spearfishing World Records. The growing technology in the sport
of spearfishing, and the increasing skill of divers today has prompted the IUSA
to expand its role in the diving community through reorganization. In addition to
the certification and compilation of spearfishing world records, the IUSA is actively
striving to promote ethical spearfishing practices, and is becoming involved in
scientific and educational programs which not only benefit divers, but also the
world as a whole.
In its reorganization, the IUSA wishes to continue to recognize the past achievements
of spearfishing world record holders. To implement the NEW IUSA, and the formulation
of new world record rules, records established under the old rules will remain,
but will be designated as 20th century records. New world record fish speared under
the revised rules will be designated as 21st century records beginning January 1,
The following world record rules are based on the philosophy of sportsmanship and
excellence in spearfishing. The spearing of a fish, whether record size or not,
requires extensive knowledge of fish behavior to complete a successful stalk; knowledge
of spearfishing equipment, operation and rigging to insure a well placed and effective
shot; and skill in the water to successfully hunt and capture a large fish. Although
the world record rules have been formulated to insure that the diver has captured
the fish through fair practices, it is impossible to predict whether a particular
fish was easy or difficult to spear and subdue. Only the individual spearfisher
can properly evaluate the degree of difficulty in establishing a world record. Although
it is the hope of the IUSA that all spearfishers will attempt a world record catch,
divers are cautioned and reminded that Spearfishing is a recreational sport and
no risk to human life is worth any record or any fish. Additionally the IUSA encourages
all Spearfishers to seek every means of education as to how to successfully enjoy
the sport of spearfishing while remaining safe from any and all injuries. It is
the IUSA's strong admonishment that no diver attempt any record venture without
proper preparation and education and to abort and seek safety in a time of danger.
For the purpose of a world record, "spearfishing" is defined as the capturing
of a wild gamefish through the use of a muscle powered spear gun, while freediving.
Only fish captured in accordance with the IUSA rules will be considered for a world
record. In keeping with the philosophy of ethical and sporting spearfishing practices,
freedivers must subdue their catch unassisted. Finally, to insure that all individuals
have the opportunity for a spearfishing world record, the IUSA has established world
record categories of fish for both men and women.
When received by the IUSA, each application will be reviewed by the Records Committee,
and approved by the Board of Directors of the IUSA. IUSA Board of Directors cannot
vote on a record in which they have a personal or commercial interest. Since the
IUSA supports all organizations with the same goals toward spearfishing and freediving,
the submission of a catch for world record consideration, or the granting of a record
by the IUSA, does not preclude or prohibit the applicant from submitting the catch
to other organizations for like records.
Given the international nature of spearfishing world records and the multitude of regulatory
bodies and rules and regulations and constant updates, it is impossible for IUSA to know every
rule and regulation. Accordingly, IUSA’s approval of a record does not imply that
fishing in a given location and/or the equipment used is compliant or legal. It is the
responsibility of each applicant to familiarize oneself with all of a location’s rules
and regulations. IUSA reserves the right to rescind any record that is later determined
to have been caught in violation of a rule or regulation.
A. CLASSES OF AWARDS
1. WORLD RECORDS:
Only those fish which are speared and landed according to the IUSA's Spearfishing World
Record Rules may be considered for IUSA world record status. All applicants must carefully follow
the requirements for filing claims. All materials submitted become the property of IUSA.
- (a) Separate records will kept for fish taken by Speargun or Sling/Polespear
- (b) Separate records will be kept for catches made by men and women
Freediving is defined as the sport of skin diving by which the
individual swims on the surface or dives below the surface of the water unencumbered
and unaided by artificial breathing devices (i.e., SCUBA, bailout bottle, etc.).
The diver is completely free swimming and is not touching or holding on to any boat
or floating device which has on board or is powered by motor or mechanical device.
Unassisted is defined as subduing the catch without the use of artificial
breathing devices, without the benefit of exiting the water to retrieve or subdue
the fish. The diver must complete the task without the assistance of another individual
in subduing, capturing or securing the catch (i.e., helping to pull on the catch
in any way, attaching the tether to the catch, handing the diver a loaded spear
gun, touching or holding the diver while fighting the fish, or any other act which
cause the fish to be subdued through the efforts of two people). This does not preclude
the attendant diver from supplying equipment (unloaded guns, additional floats,
additional tow line, or a stringer) given that the original diver must attach and
tend the additional equipment and that the attendant does not touch any portion
of the original or additional equipment until the catch is subdued. In addition, this does not
preclude the attendant diver from fending off predators or otherwise being in the water and
acting as a safety diver, provided such assistance is performed in compliance with the above rules.
Any speargun that stores potential energy provided from the spearfisher's
muscles only. The gun may only release that amount of energy that the diver has
provided to it from their own muscles. Common temporary energy storing devices for
spearguns are: rubber bands, springs, and sealed air chambers.
Any device which delivers air to the diver for breathing while
under the surface of the water. This includes, but is not limited to, SCUBA, Hooka,
"bailout" bottles (extra air) or rebreathers.
fish that is taken ashore, handed to someone that is positioned on a boat, placed on, or tethered to a boat with a line no more
than 10 feet (3 meters) long, or on the belt stringer of the spearing diver.
TETHER: A length of rope or wire, not more than 3 meters long, attached securely
to a boat, which is used to successfully and permanently subdue a fish by looping
the tail or by looping the tether through the mouth and gill opening by the spearing
A fish which is weakened by being previously speared,
or attacked by sharks, or injured by propellers or by a commercial or recreational
fishing process (e.g., a recently caught and tagged marlin). Any mutilation on the
fish must be shown in a photograph and fully explained in a separate report accompanying
the record application.
C. GENERAL RULES
Divers must be freediving when they spear and land their catch. The use of artificial
breathing devices is not allowed at any time (e.g., to retrieve the speared fish).
Divers may leave the water to obtain additional equipment but the diver must
reenter the water where exited (allowing for free boat movement) and continue the
pursuit free swimming. No pursuit of the quarry by means of boat will be allowed.
If a diver looses contact with his floats and can no longer see them, he may reenter
a non moving boat and "spot" the floats. He must then reenter the water
where exited (allowing for free boat movement) and free swim in the direction of
his floats and regain contact. Under no condition may the diver utilize the boat
to recontact his floats.
Due to the potentially dangerous aspect of using
bait, lures, or other teasing and attracting devises, the IUSA does not encourage
the practice. However, it is allowed in all forms. If bait or chum is used, the
applicant must declare the act on the basic application for record, and during the
narrative for recording purposes. No detail of the chumming is necessary. A simple
statement "working a chum line" will suffice.
Fish must be free-swimming,
unrestricted by nets, traps, fishing lines or other devices.
Fish must not be in an artificial environment or marine protected biosphere such
as penned-in bays,in close proximity to fish nets or fish rearing pens, or areas
that are otherwise closed to fishing/spearfishing
The catch must follow all laws and regulations governing the species or the
waters in which the fish was caught and not require a special permit that few can get.
Another diver may provide a second
or additional unloaded gun to the spearfisher, provided they do not assist the diver
in any way to subdue their catch.
Fish mutilated by anything other than
the spearfishing equipment of the applicant are not allowed.
The use of artificial light sources for night spearfishing is not allowed.
Spearguns: The gun must be charged with muscle power only; no explosive or compressed
power is allowed.
- Sling/Polespear: The spear must be charged by muscle power, the charge held in place by
hand and released by hand release only, no mechanical trigger release or holding mechanism
is allowed to be used or to be on the polespear or sling. Includes gear commonly known as sling, Hawaiian sling, polespear, three prong, etc.
- Terminal gear: Trail line or reels are allowed. Floats of any size are allowed,
provided they are solely propelled by the diver (i.e., no motors or any other mechanical means).
- Divers must pull their fish to the surface while they remain in the water. Once the fish is
subdued and at the surface it may be gaffed by someone in a safety boat. Another diver or crew
member may pass unloaded spearguns or sling/polespear to the diver, provided they and
their associated gear follow the regulations set forth above for the primary gear (D.1-3)
Powerheads: Powerheads are prohibited. They may be carried by the diver for defense,
but they may not be used to spear or subdue their catch.
- Artificial breathing
apparatus: No artificial breathing apparatus is allowed.
E. ELIGIBLE FISH
All species of gamefish will be considered by the IUSA Board provided they are at
least 10 pounds (4.5 kg) and are not on the list of IUSA Ineligible Species. The
Board retains the right to reject species considered unworthy of recognition and
in such cases the application fee will be returned. When in doubt the applicant
is encouraged to contact the IUSA for guidance before submitting the application.
In the case of Fresh Water Fish the minimum weight is five (5) pounds.
F. WEIGHTS NEEDED TO DEFEAT OR TIE EXISTING RECORDS
To replace a record for a fish weighing less than 25 pounds (11.33
kg), the replacement must weigh at least 2 ounces (56.69 gm) more than the existing
To replace a record for a fish weighing 25 pounds (11.33 kg) or
more, the replacement must weigh one-half percent (0.5%) more than the previous
record. For example, for a 200 pound fish (90.71 kg) to defeat a current record
it must weigh 1 pound (.45 kg) more than the existing record.
which matches the weight of an existing record or exceeds the weight by less than
the amount required to defeat the record will be considered a tie and will not break the record. Nothing weighing
less than the current record will be considered. Fractions of an ounce, or their
metric equivalents, will not be considered.
G. WEIGHING REQUIREMENTS
The fish must be weighed by an official weighmaster (if one is available), or
by an IUSA representative, or by a recognized local person familiar with the scale.
Disinterested witnesses to the weight should be used whenever possible.
The mouth may be secured to prevent stomach contents from falling out. If stomach
contents should accidentally fall out, they cannot be replaced.
be clean when weighed--no sand or dirt may be clinging to them.
be frozen before they are weighed. If still frozen while being weighed, any adhering
ice must be removed.
The weight of the sling or rope (if used to secure
the fishor close the mouth) must be subtracted from the total weight.
At the time of the weighing, the actual gear used by the spearfisher to catch the
fish must be exhibited to the weighmaster and weight witness.
- Only weights
indicated by the gradations on the scale will be accepted. Visual interpolation
between gradations is not allowed. Any weights that fall between two gradations
must be rounded to the lower weight.
- All record fish should be weighed
on scales that have been checked for accuracy by government agencies or other qualified
and accredited organizations. All scales must be regularly checked for accuracy
and must be current within 12 months, or recertified within 2 weeks after the weighing.
Application must include close-up picture of the certification stamp on the
scale or documents from certifying agency showing last date of certification.
If there is no certified scale available, the scale may be cross-certified.
Weigh objects of similar weight to the fish, and then perform a
cross-calibration against a certified scale showing the same weight (include
pictures). A penalty may be applied.
In extremely remote areas where no weighing scales are available, it will be
permissible for the spearfisher to use their own scales provided that they are properly
certified for accuracy by the appropriate government agency immediately after returning
from the spearfishing trip. Official documentation of calibration or recertification
after the catch must be included with the application.
The IUSA reserves
the right to have the scales recertified or checked.
When a catch cannot
be weighed on land and must be weighed at sea, two efforts must be met. The first
and most important is that the applicant and at least one witness must submit
a short statement indicating the action of the sea vs. the action of the scale.
That is; describe the high and low measurement indicated on the scale by water movement
(if any). If there is no movement, that must be said as well. Second, a still photo or video should be taken showing the minimum and maximum weight registered.
In some cases there will be no difference. No application will be accepted
without the requested statements.
H. OTHER DOCUMENTATION
To assist in the verification of the weight, the length (fork length
and total length - see application form) and girth of the fish must be photographed
and recorded. A measuring tape made of a material that does not stretch or shrink,
even when wet, must be used. Length shall be measured with the tape stretched straight
above the fish (i.e., not conforming to the body contours) and girth shall be measured
with the tape conforming tightly to the thickest portion of the body.
Weights calculated from length and/or girth shall not be accepted, however, a meritorious
award may be made for a fish which exceeds both the length and girth of the current
Catch weighing or measurement must be witnessed and as much documentation
as possible should accompany the application for the record.
In the case
of Big Eye Tuna a photograph of the liver should be taken that clearly depicts the
blood vessel striations on the edge of the liver. In the case of Mangrove or
Grey Snapper a photo must show the arrow like patch of teeth on the roof of the
mouth and a photo should be taken showing the small teeth of the lower jaw. In the
case of Blue Marlin a photo must show the pectoral fin collapsing or having freedom
In the case of Southern Bluefin Tuna
and Pacific Bluefin Tuna caught south of the equator of the Pacific, preserve a
tissue sample (e.g., frozen piece of flesh) in case DNA testing is required to
identify the species.
Divers must record the date, exact location, common name and scientific name
of their catch on an official application.
color, must be submitted on-line with the application, providing sufficient detail for unequivocal
species determination. These photographs become the property of the IUSA which may
publish them as it deems appropriate. The pictures must be high enough resolution to be able to see the weight and measurements clearly
and to be able to make a positive fish identification. If there is the slightest
doubt regarding the identification of the fish based upon the photographs and other
data offered, the fish should be examined by an ichthyologist or qualified fishery
biologist before the record is submitted. If a scientist is not available, the fish
should be retained in a preserved or frozen condition until a qualified authority
can verify the species, or until the applicant is notified by IUSA. If no decision
can be made from the photographs, and the spearfisher can provide no further proof
of the identification of the species, the record claim will not be considered.
- a. Photographs showing the full length of the fish, the diver with the fish, the
speargun(s) used to make the catch, and the scale used to weigh the fish must accompany
b. In all cases, photographs should be taken of the fish
in a hanging position and also lying on a flat surface on its side. The fish should
be broadside to the camera and no part of the fish should be obscured. The fins
must be fully extended and not obscured by hands or equipment, and the jaw or bill
clearly shown. Avoid obscuring the keels of tunas and other keeled species with
a tail rope.
- c. When photographing a fish lying on its side, the surface
beneath the fish should be smooth and a ruler or marked tape placed beside the fish
- d. Photographs from various angles are most helpful.
e. A photograph of the fish on the scale with the actual weight visible is required.
- f. In-the-water photographs, while not required, are requested if available.
Acceptance of the application is, in part, dependent upon the completeness of
the description of the hunt and capture. Include gun type, terminal gear, depth
at which the fish was speared, names of other divers present, name of the diveboat,
use of chum, water visibility, sea state, distance from shore, estimated bottom
depth, current conditions, time of day, and associated fish (e.g., other members
of a school, bait fish, etc.).
Witnesses to the catch: On all record claims,
witnesses to the catch are highly desirable. Unwitnessed catches may be disallowed
if questions arise regarding their authenticity. It is important that the witnesses
can attest to the spearfisher's compliance with IUSA rules.
of claims: Complete application should be submitted within 6 months of date of capture.
Incomplete claims: If an incomplete claim is submitted, it must be accompanied
by an explanation of why certain portions are incomplete. An incomplete claim will
be considered for a record if the following conditions are met: a. The incomplete
claim with explanations must be received within the 6-month period. b. Missing
data must be due to circumstances beyond the control of the spearfisher making the
record claim. c. All missing data must be supplied within a period of time
considered to be reasonable in view of the particular circumstances. d. Final
decisions on incomplete claims will be made by the Records Committee.
J. PREPARING THE APPLICATION FORM
The Spearfisher must submit a completed IUSA application form along with all
must be prepared in English.
Applicant must fill out and submit the form online.
Extreme care should be exercised in measuring
the fish, as the measurements are often important for weight verification and scientific
studies. (See the measurement diagram on the record application to be sure you have
The spearfisher is responsible for ensuring that
the necessary signatures and correct addresses of the boat captain, weighmaster,
and witnesses are on the application. Use of a boatman, guide, or weighmaster as
a witness is discouraged.
The application fee is $25 for IUSA members,
$35 for non-members.
K. REGULATIONS GOVERNING APPLICATIONS
The spirit of the IUSA is one of sportsmanship and honor and the entire purpose
of our organization would be defeated if cheating were allowed.
In some cases, an IUSA officer or representative may be asked to recheck information
submitted on an application. Such action should not be regarded as doubt of the
formal affidavit, but rather as evidence of the extreme care with which IUSA investigates
and maintains its records.
Deliberate falsification of an application
will disqualify the record and any further applications by the applicant, and any
existing records will be nullified.
Anyone who knowingly collaborates,
assists, or furthers fraudalent applications will be disqualified from any further
applications, and any existing records will be nullified. If this person is an IUSA
Director or representative, they will be immediately removed from their position
with the IUSA and will not be eligible for future consideration as a Director or
The concerned parties, if they so request, may have an
opportunity to be heard by the Board of Directors at their next meeting, by letter
or in person.
Protested applications or disputed existing records will
be reviewed by the IUSA Board of Directors. Its decisions will be final. All IUSA
decisions will be based upon the intent of the regulations.
Consistent with the mission of the IUSA "to promote ethical, safe and sportsmanlike
spearfishing practices, to encourage and support a sense of environmental responsibility
among divers", the IUSA Board continuously and independently reviews species
that are on the ineligible list. The eligibility of a species is based on meeting
one of more of the following criteria:
It is considered endangered by internationally recognized communities
Its biology predisposes it to overfishing (such as sharks)
It is not usually harvested for consumption and/or is a catch-and-release fishery
It is in serious decline and causing significant ecological impact that is well
documented in the scientific literature
The following species meet one or more of the above criteria and are ineligible
for world record status:
Atlantic Goliath Grouper / Epinephelus itajara
Bocaccio Rockfish / Sebastes paucispinus
Bonefish / Albula spp.
California Sheephead / Semicossyphus pulcher
Camotillo / Paralabrax albomaculatus
Common Seabream / Pagrus pagrus
Dusky Grouper / Epinephelus marginatus
Giant Grouper / Epinephelus lanceolatus
Giant (Black) Sea Bass / Stereolepis gigas
Greenback Parrotfish / Scarus trispinosus
Gulf Grouper / Mycteroperca jordani
Hong Kong Grouper / Epinephelus akaara
Humphead (Maori) Wrasse / Cheilinus undulatus
Island Grouper / Mycteroperca fusca
Madagascar Meagre / Argyrosomus hololepidotus
Monterrey Spanish Mackerel / Scomberomorus concolor
Nassau Grouper / Epinephelus striatus
Pacific Goliath Grouper / Epinephelus quinquefasciatus
Potato Grouper (Potato Cod) / Epinephelus tukula
Southern Bluefin Tuna / Thunnus maccoyii
Strawberry Grouper / Epinephelus drummondhayi
Sunfish, Ocean / Mola mola
Tarpon / Megalops atlanticus
Totoaba / Totoaba macdonaldi
Warsaw Grouper / Hyporthodus nigritus
Any species of sharks or rays are not eligible