“RULES, RECORDS, AND YOU”
©2005 BY: Larry Carter
President, International Underwater Spearfishing Association.
The International Underwater Spearfishing Association (IUSA) came into existence
in 1950 for the purpose of setting standards for World Record Spearfishing Awards
and establishing a system for maintaining those records world-wide. Actually the
model program first came into play around 1947, for divers on the Pacific Coast
through the efforts of Ralph Davis and Jack Prodanovich. These “fathers”of our sport,
were joined later by Jacque Yves Cousteau in France, and Luis Puyo in Spain. Today,
over fifty years later, Spearos world wide, enjoy the prestige, pride, and sense
of accomplishment in holding a World Record title.
This program which is offered to Spearos across the globe, is currently held in
place by less than a dozen volunteers who freely give their time to make this records
program work. We do this for the same reasons our original founders did…to give
something back to the sport and our “Tribe” that we hold in such high regard. It’s
our desire to keep up with the changing needs of the Spearos and at the same time
insure a fair and level playing field for all. You as an applicant play the most
important role in that process and that’s the proper reporting of your fine catch.
I’m writing this article, and HSD is printing it, to help you get us the complete
information about your catch. Rather than bore you with pages of “cold rules” I’ll
write this from the perspective of a day’s diving.
First of all if you’re going to participate in Spearfishing and have the chance,
if not the intention, of getting a record fish, you should be prepared. I have a
“kit” as most of my buddies do, that consists of an IUSA application, a copy of
the rules, and the current records (all obtained from the IUSA web site). In addition,
I have a good quality spring scale that handles weights from one to one hundred
pounds. I also have a cloth measuring tape (found in any fabric store) that is 96
inches in length, and a “throwaway” camera WITH A FLASH that costs less than $12,
along with a couple of pens. All this I keep in one of those insulated fabric lunch
boxes that keeps my camera from frying in the sun.
Cameras and photos.
If you’re really interested in taking a good photo, review HSD’s “Special Photo
Issue of 2004”. Joe Tobin tells you everything you need to know. But here, I’ll
make it simple…don’t even consider taking a photo without a flash anytime, anywhere.
If you purchase a throwaway camera, pay the extra dollar or two making sure it has
a FLASH and USE IT. The flash will enhance the shot and help bring out important
details in a picture. I’m surprised to see that for less than $12 you can get a
camera… “Kodak Plus Digital”… with a flash, that gives you 27 prints plus a digital
disc for easy emails to friends and Sterling. You could also get a Canon Sure-Shot
digital that would please Sterling very much, for $100.
Weighing the fish.
When you think you have a World Record fish what is more important, eating the fish
or getting the record? For me, I can eat fish any day. Records come around once
in a lifetime. Get the fish properly weighed. If you get in late one night and can’t
get to a certified scale, wrap the fish up in some papers and a plastic trash bag
and put it in a cooler or frig. Weigh it the next day!! Will the stomach contents
taint the fish? I don’t know. Does it really matter? We are talking about a World
Record. How many times in your life does that happen?
If you’re in a remote area weigh it on your QUALITY spring scale. Take a photograph
of the measurement and then when you return to civilization “cross calibrate” that
weight with a certified scale. What does cross calibrate mean??… If the fish weighed
ten pounds on your scale, load your scale up with weights until you reach the ten-pound
mark. Take those weights off your scale and place them on the certified scale. Do
the weights still weigh ten pounds? Or do they weigh nine or eleven pounds? Whatever
they weigh, that’s the weight of your fish. Remember it’s always best to have a
certified weight, but we do go places where this is not possible and the IUSA makes
provisions for that. Be prepared to send your scale to the IUSA for inspection if
OK lets do a dive and examine some new changes to IUSA catch rules. Lets assume
we’re out on a boat. We jump in, swim around, and shoot a whopping big fish! We
accomplished this with or without the benefit of chum. There are no restrictions
on the use of chum, other than you must declare the use when making the application.
The fish takes off and we grab our floats and go for a ride. Eventually he tires
and its time to “pull and clip”. This is assuming you have a heavy-duty tuna clip
attached to your float. If you don’t have one, get one! We recommend you do this
the safest way possible making full use of your float. I’m sure you’ve seen videos
of guys kicking, pulling, gasping for air and scratching for the surface. This is
crazy! I call it “dance and drown”. As they pull the line up it coils all around
them and they are in great danger of a line wrap and death.
Before you start the process bring your float to you. Take one hand and hold the
float strap and pull the float line with the other hand. As the float line comes
up, place it in the hand holding onto the float. Periodically “clip” the line. In
this manner if the fish should sound and you do get “wrapped” there are few fish
that will be able to hold you and the float down for any length of time or depth.
If you chose you might even lay on the float as many spearos do with the Tuna boards
and “pull and clip”. Be Safe. Use your equipment to your full advantage. No fish
is worth your life.
You have the fish where you can see it, but he’s still “hot” and your shot is poor.
According to the latest IUSA rules, you can leave your floats and swim back to the
boat and enter the boat for another gun. You MAY NOT drive the boat back to your
floats. You must reenter the water where you exited (allowing for drift) and free
swim back to your floats. A little different case…you shoot a fish, he gets away
from you, the waters rough or its getting dark and you can’t see the floats. You
can enter the boat for “elevation” and spot the floats and jump back in and free
swim in their last seen direction. YOU MAY NOT PURSUE THE FLOATS IN THE BOAT.
You can second-shoot the fish and “stone” him to bring him up. You then swim him
to the boat and either hand him over to someone or tie a line around his tail or
slip your float line over the deck cleat, climb into the boat, and drag him in.
Ok, we’re on a “live aboard”… perhaps the Coral Sea or La Paz. When you weigh the
fish AT SEA there are additional IUSA requirements. You should take at least two
STILL PHOTOGRAPHS of the scale showing the hanging fish and the hands of the scale
(or digital readout) indicating the weight. JUST AS IMPORTANT, you MUST have a paragraph
in your catch narrative describing the condition of the seas and what affect IF
ANY the movement had on the scale. As an example… “The scale fluctuated between
ten and fifteen pounds with an average resting place of thirteen pounds”. You must
ALSO have a SECOND PERSON write a short statement describing the weight, sea activity,
and affect on the scale. Video Tapes of fish weighed at sea are no longer required
by the latest IUSA catch rules.
Measuring and photographs
No real mystery here… lay the fish on a flat surface so you don’t distort the shape
of the fish or the measurements. Measure everything twice to be accurate. Place
your measuring tape (not a piece of string with a knot) on the tip of his lower
lip and along his body to the fork of his tail and then on to the imaginary line
between the tips of the tail fin. TAKE A PHOTO of each measurement.
Wrap the measuring tape around the biggest part of the fish body or GIRTH of the
fish, showing the measurement clearly… TAKE A PHOTO!
Hang the fish from a scale and take PHOTOS of the scale showing the weight of the
fish and then the overall fish and scale. The more photos the better. Lastly take
a PHOTO of your gun, tag line, and float. No big deal really!! Finally, review
the document and make sure everything has been addressed and include your fee. If
you do these simple things you'll be approved in days.
A few short days ago I had the honor of becoming the President of the IUSA. I don’t
take this position lightly. It is my major goal to provide you with the service
and support you deserve. I can only do that with your help. Review your documents,
make sure everything is there and we’ll respond quickly and efficiently. We look
forward to serving you and we wish you many years of safe and successful diving.
International Underwater Spearfishing Association.