Here, we’ll look at the most common legal questions asked by people thinking of taking up Spearfishing – specifically in the UK – and their answers. Please take the time to look through these, especially if you’re someone just finding their feet in the sport!
Is Spearfishing Legal In The UK?
Yes, Spearfishing in the UK is legal. But it does have some restrictions. In short, Spearfishing in the UK is limited to Tidal Areas, which refers to the coastline of the UK. There are some exceptions to this such as some harbours (see local guidance) and protected marine preservation areas and nurseries (again see local guidance) are prohibited to Spearfish in. It is also forbidden to Spearfish in freshwater bodies such as Rivers and Lakes. With this said, it is your responsibility to educate yourself on the restrictions of your local areas (or area you are planning to Spearfish).
Is Spearfishing At Night Legal In The UK?
It used to be, however, as of a ruling in 2019 Spearfishing at night in the UK has been outlawed and is no longer legal. This comes from the EU Fisheries as a blanket ruling to all of Europe, so the outcome of this may be reviewed after the UK leaves the European Union in 2021. Although, overturning this decision seems very unlikely due to the small overall percentage of fisherman this effects.
What Can I Legally Catch In The UK?
Restrictions on what you can catch, and at what size whilst Spearfishing are the same as they are for recreational Anglers. So when looking at what we can and can’t catch, we look to the guidance they are given. In the UK most species you will commonly encounter are legal to catch.
There are exceptions to this, such as the catch and release periods on Bass, and restrictions on fish less common such as Bluefin Tuna. Take a look at our other article, UK Minimum Size Limits to see a comprehensive list of what you can catch, and at what sizes! Please note, any species not on this list is either prohibited to catch in the UK on a recreational basis, or not commonly expected in our waters.
Do I Need A Licence Or Permit To Legally Spearfish In The UK?
The simple answer is no, there is no requirement to hold a Spearfishing licence or permit in the UK. This is a common question, particularly from Spearos travelling from Europe. As in other areas across Europe and the world, licences are required to Spearfish. There are restrictions to Spearfishing in the UK as we have previously mentioned. But generally speaking anyone can start Spearfishing.
Another reason why people ask this is because of the obvious elephant in the room. Spearguns can be very dangerous. It is the responsibility of the user to understand the risks involved, and to understand that the consequences of negligence, carelessness, or misuse could be severe. See our article, Spearfishing Health & Safety for more details!
Is It Legal To Use Scuba Equipment Whilst Spearfishing In The UK?
No, it is not legal to use Scuba Diving equipment whilst Spearfishing in the UK. In fact, it is not legal to use Scuba equipment for Spearfishing in Europe in general. This comes under another blanket ruling from the EU fisheries. The ruling is not expected to be reviewed in the wake of the UK leaving the EU in 2021.
Do I Need To Be A Member Of An Organisation To Spearfish In The UK?
No, there is no legal requirement for Spearos to be apart of an organisation to enjoy Spearfishing in the UK. On a personal level, I would recommend joining the BSA (British Spearfishing Association) and other local groups purely as a way of improving your Spearfishing experience. See our Spearfishing Communities page to find more details on the groups that could be available to you!
Can I Take My Spearguns Abroad On A Plane?
Yes, this is perfectly legal and necessary to really experience Spearfishing as a whole, and not just in the UK. As fun and challenging as Spearfishing in the UK can be, sometimes you just need to escape to warm, crystal clear waters! How you take your Speargun on a plane however is another matter. As per the government guidance (see https://www.gov.uk/hand-luggage-restrictions/sports-equipment) Spearguns are not allowed to be carried within hand luggage. Which means you will have to check them into hold luggage. The way in which you do this is decided by the airlines themselves. So it’s always best to check with them first before booking your ticket and luggage allowances. However, don’t let this put you off travelling to Spearfish. All of the pain and frustration that can come from travelling with your gear will always be worth it!