What To Know Before You Go. . .
Spearfishing is defined as the taking of any saltwater fish through the instrumentality of a spear,
gig, or lance operated by a person swimming at or below the surface of the water. The use of
powerheads, bangsticks, and
rebreathers remains prohibited.

Possession of spear equipment:
Possession of spears and spearguns is prohibited in Everglades National Park,
Dry Tortugas National Park and Florida State Parks.  Coral is protected from damage and taking in
state and federal waters.

Bag and Size Limits:
The federal bag limits cannot be combined with state bag limits. Remember to abide by
regulations regarding size limits. Objects underwater appear 25% larger. Check with agencies for
current regulations: http://www.myfwc.com or http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/

License Requirements:
Recreational harvesters are required to possess a valid Florida Saltwater Fishing License.
Consult your license agent for purchasing and exemptions to licensing requirements or visit http:
//www.myfwc.com.

Dive Flag: All divers and snorkelers in the water are required to prominently display a diversdown
flag. The minimum size for any divers-down flag displayed on a buoy or float towed by the diver is
12” by 12”. The minimum size for any divers-down flag displayed from a vessel or structure is 20”
by 24”. Any
divers-down flag displayed from a vessel must be displayed from the highest point of the vessel or
such other location which provides that the visibility of the
divers-down flag is not obstructed in any direction.

State Waters are all salt waters surrounding the Florida Keys out to three (3) nautical miles from
the nearest point of land including islands on the Atlantic side and out to nine (9) nautical miles
from the nearest point of land including islands on the Gulf side. Consult NOAA nautical charts.
Information and chart distributors can be found at http://chartmaker.ncd.noaa.gov/.
Spearfishing in the Florida Keys
• Unincorporated Monroe County
It is unlawful for any person to use, fire or discharge any
speargun on or below the surface of the water in any
man-made canal in the unincorporated areas of Monroe
County.
• Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
• Existing Management Areas (EMA’s)
Possession of spearfishing equipment within an Existing
Management Area is prohibited except while transiting t
hrough without stopping.
• Key Largo - adjacent to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and extends
to the 300’ depth
• Looe Key
The following no-take areas are marked by 30" diameter round yellow buoys:
• Sanctuary Preservation Areas (SPA’s)
• Carysfort Reef • Cheeca Rocks
• Elbow • Alligator Reef
• Key Largo Dry Rocks • Coffins Patch
• Grecian Rocks • Sombrero Key
• French Reef • Looe Key
• Molasses Reef • Newfound Harbor
• Conch Reef • Eastern Dry Rocks
• Hen and Chickens • Rock Key
• Davis Reef • Sand Key
• Special-use Research Only Areas
• Conch Reef • Tennessee Reef
• Looe Key Patch Reef • Eastern Sambo
• Ecological Reserves
• Western Sambo
• Tortugas (not currently marked)
• State Waters from Long Key north to the Miami-Dade County line (including the
island of Long Key) State Waters are all salt waters surrounding the
Florida Keys out to three (3) nautical miles from the nearest point of land
including islands on the Atlantic side and out to nine (9) nautical miles from
the nearest point of land including islands on the Gulf side.
• Everglades National Park
• Dry Tortugas National Park
• State Parks
• The following state parks are within State Waters in the Upper Keys -
spearfishing is prohibited
• Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park
• John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
• Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park
• Lignumvitae Key Submerged Land Management Area
• Long Key State Park
• The following state parks boundaries extend out to 400 feet
from the shoreline - spearfishing and the possession of
spearfishing equipment is prohibited in these areas.
• Curry Hammock State Park
• Bahia Honda State Park
• Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Sate Park
• Beaches, Piers, Bridges
Within 100 yards of a public swimming beach, any commercial
or public fishing pier, or any part of a bridge from which public
fishing is allowed.
• Jetties
Within 100 feet of any part of a jetty that is above the surface of
the sea - except for the last 500 yards of a jetty that extends
more than 1,500 yards from the shoreline.   
Spearfishing is Prohibited in the Following Areas of Monroe County
Species Prohibited for Harvest by Spearing:

• African Pompano • Red Drum
• Billfish • Sharks
• Bonefish • Snook
• Goliath Grouper (Jewfish) • Sturgeon
• Lobster • Spotted Eagle Ray
• Manta Ray • Spotted Seatrout
• Nassau Grouper • Tarpon
• Permit • Tripletail
• Pompano • Weakfish
• Families of Ornamental Reef Fish
(Surgeonfish, Trumpetfish, Angelfish, Butterflyfish, Porcupinefish, Cornetfish,
Squirrelfish, Trunkfish, Damselfish, Parrotfish, Pipefish, Seahorse, Puffers,
Triggerfish except gray and ocean)

Know Your Fish Before You Go
(These 2 fish are protected and often confused with similar looking
species.)

Goliath Grouper (Jewfish)
head and fins covered with small black spots; irregular vertical bars present on
the sides of body; pectoral and caudal fins rounded; eyes small
Nassau Grouper
color light background with brown or red-brown bars on sides; stripe in shape
of tuning fork on forehead; black dots around the eyes; large black saddle on
caudal peduncle
Spearfishing is a form of fishing that has been popular throughout the world for centuries. Early
civilizations are familiar with the custom of spearing fish out of rivers and streams using
sharpened sticks as a means of catching food.

Spearfishing today employs more modern and effective elastic- or pneumatic-powered spearguns
and slings to strike the hunted fish.

Spearfishing may be done using free-diving, snorkeling, or scuba diving techniques. However,
spearfishing while using SCUBA or other artificial breathing apparatus is frowned upon in some
locations and is illegal in many others. Because of the belief of lack of sport in some modern
spearfishing techniques, the use of mechanically-powered spearguns is outlawed in some
jurisdictions.

Spearfishing in the past has been detrimental to the environment when species unafraid or
unused to divers were targeted excessively. However, it is also highly selective and has extremely
low amount of by-catch; therefore with education and proper regulations spearfishing can be the
most ecologically sustainable form of fishing.

The very best free-diving spearfishers can hold their breath for durations of 2-4 minutes and dive to
depths of 40 or even 60 meters (about 130 to 200 feet). However, dives of approximately 1 minute
and 15 or 20 meters (about 50 to 70 feet) are more common for the average experienced
spearfisher.
All About Florida Keys Fishing & Key West Fishing
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