The following European Record rules are based on the philosophy of sportsmanship and excellence in spearfishing. Spearing a fish, whether record size or not, requires the hunger to:
1. Apply extensive knowledge of fish behavior to successfully stalk and spear a fish
2. Expertly understand, rig, and operate spearfishing equipment to land a well-placed, effective shot
3. Possess in-water skill to successfully hunt and capture a large fish.
Although the European Record rules were designed to ensure the diver captured the fish using 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 European Record. Although ESRA hopes that all spearfishers will attempt a European Record catch, the organization cautions and reminds divers that spearfishing is a recreational sport; no risk to human life is worth any record or any fish. Additionally, ESRA encourages all spearfishers to seek the highest level of education to successfully enjoy the sport of spearfishing while remaining safe from any and all injuries. ESRA strongly admonishes that no diver should attempt any record venture without the proper preparation and education, and in dangerous situations, abort the dive to seek safety.
For the purpose of a European Record, spearfishing is defined as the capture of a wild gamefish using a muscle-powered speargun while freediving. Only fish captured in accordance with the ESRA rules will be considered for a European Record. In keeping with the philosophy of ethical and sportsmanlike spearfishing practices, freedivers must subdue their catch without outside assistance.
Each application received by the ESRA will be reviewed by the Records Committee and approved by the ESRA Board of Directors. The Board of Directors cannot vote on a record in which they have a personal or commercial interest.
1. CLASSES OF AWARDS
Only fish speared and landed according to ESRA Rules may be considered for European Record status. All applicants must carefully follow the requirements for filing claims. All materials submitted become the property of ESRA.
All the world records ratified by IUSA that are registered in European geographic territory are automatically included in the official list of ESRA European Records, regardless of the applicant’s nationality.
Therefore, spearfishers whose world records are ratified by IUSA need not submit an ESRA application to also hold an European Record. Any European Record which also establishes a World Record by weight, will be considered as an ESRA World Record, regardless of its IUSA certification or not. All IUSA Records that have been previously presented to ESRA and refused will be not considered as an ESRA European Record.
ESRA Worldwide Notable Catch list will include:
1. All former ESRA European Records
2. Catches that are very close to the European Record, but meets all but one of the ESRA rules and therefore cannot be approved as an official Record.
3. All IUSA World Records held by european citizens for catches that occurred outside of the european geographic territory.
ESRA will award a Meritorious Award to catches that are exceptionally large or are a rare specimen, but meets all but two or more of the ESRA rules and therefore cannot be approved as an official record. To qualify for a Meritorious Award, the catches must be verified by an official institution such as an association, federation, club, or similar. The eligible catches must be legal and usually fished for consumption, and may or may not be included in the list of species eligible for a record, including eels, shellfish, and cephalopods.
Applications for the Meritorious Award may be submitted without a photograph of the weighing procedure, however, applicants must submit a photo of the diver with the specimen to qualify.
2. GENERAL RULES
2.1. 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).
2.2. 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 by free swimming. Using a boat to pursue the catch is not allowed.
2.3. If a diver looses contact with his floats and can no longer see them, the diver may reenter a non-moving boat and "spot" the floats.
The diver must then reenter the water where exited (allowing for free boat movement) and free swim to regain contact with the floats. Under no condition may the diver utilize the boat to regain contact with his floats.
2.4. Due to the potentially dangerous aspect of using bait, lures, or other teasing and attracting devises, the ESRA does not encourage the practice. However, it is allowed in all forms. If bait or chum is used, the applicant must declare this in the record application, and during the narrative for recording purposes. A detailed description of chumming is not necessary; simply provide a statement such as "working a chum line."
2.5. Fish must be free-swimming, unrestricted by nets, traps, fishing lines or other devices.
2.6. Fish must not be in an artificial environment or a protected marine area biosphere, such as penned-in bays, in close proximity to nets or fish rearing pens, or in areas closed to fishing and/or spearfishing.
2.7. The catch must follow all laws and regulations governing the species or the waters in which the fish was caught. Species that require special or limited permits will not be considered by ESRA deems that all applicants should have equal access/advantage.
2.8. Another diver may provide a second or additional unloaded gun to the spearfisher, provided they do not assist the diver to subdue their catch in any way.
2.9. Fish mutilated by anything other than the spearfishing equipment of the applicant are not allowed.
The gun must be charged with muscle power only; no explosive or compressed power as CO2 gas is allowed.
Should a speargun stores energy, this stored energy must provided by the spearfisher's muscles power only. The gun may only release that amount of energy that the diver has provided to it from his/her own muscles. Common temporary energy storing sources for spearguns are: rubber, spring, and compressed air.
3.2. Terminal gear
Trail line or reels are allowed. Floats of any size are allowed, provided they are solely propelled by the diver. Floats that use motors or any other mechanical means are prohibited.
3.3. Assistance to capture
Divers must pull their fish to the surface while they remain in the water. Once the fish is subdued and at the surface, the diver may receive assistance to gaff the fish from someone in a safety boat.
Another diver or crew member may pass unloaded spearguns to the diver, provided that secondary spearguns and associated gear meet the regulations established in Section 3.1.
The cables used to pull the fish into the boat must not exceed 3 meters in length.
4.1. Eligible species
All species of gamefish will be considered by the ESRA Board provided they are at least 0,900kg and are not on the list of ESRA Ineligible Species. The Board retains the right to reject species considered unworthy of recognition.
4.2. Ineligible species
Consistent with the mission of the ESRA "to promote ethical, safe, and sportsmanlike spearfishing practices, to encourage and support a sense of environmental responsibility among divers," the ESRA Board continuously and independently reviews species on the ineligible list.
The eligibility of a species is based on meeting one of more of the following criteria:
1. It is considered endangered by recognized communities
2. Its biology predisposes it to overfishing (such as sharks, among others)
3. It is not usually harvested for consumption
4. It is in serious decline and causes significant ecological impact, well-documented in scientific literature
The following species meet one or more of the above criteria and are ineligible for world record status:
Sunfish (Mola mola)
Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus)
Congre (Conger conger)
Any species of sharks or rays are not eligible
5.1. Weighting requirements
5.1.1. The fish must be weighed by an official weighmaster (if one is available), by an ESRA representative, or by a recognized local person familiar with the scale identified in ESRA Application Form. ESRA recommends that applicants use witnesses without interest or stake in the weight of the catch, whenever possible. Pictures or videos must be taken during the weighting procedures.
5.1.2. Fish must be clean when weighed, free of any sand or dirt.
5.1.3. The mouth may be secured to prevent stomach contents from falling out. If stomach contents should accidentally fall out, they cannot be replaced.
5.1.4. Fish may be frozen before they are weighed. If still frozen while during weighing, any adhering ice must be removed.
5.1.5. The weight of the sling or rope (if used to secure the fisher close the mouth) must be subtracted from the total weight.
5.1.6. Only weights indicated by the scale markings will be accepted. Visual interpretation of measurements that fall between scale markings is not allowed. For weights that fall between two markings, the catch must be rounded to the lower weight.
5.1.7. 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, or recertified within two weeks after the weighing. Each application must include close-up picture of the certification stamp on the scale or documents from certifying agency showing last date of certification. When scale certification have no valid limit, it must be current within 12 months.
ESRA will do the necessary weight corrections according to the scale mistakes (if they were) indicated in the scale certification documents.
5.1.8. When it is not possible to weigh the fish with a calibrated scale, ESRA will accept "cross-checking" of the weight.
In this case, when weighing the fish, the diver must also weigh a solid, stable object (such as a dive belt or one or more stones) and keep that "witness object" for a later confirmation with a calibrated scale.
This object or group of objects must be as close as possible to the weight of the fish, no more or less 20% of the fishs weight. For example, for a 10kg fish, the object must weigh less than 8kg and no more than 12kg.
To use the "cross-checking" method, both weights must cross-checked within two weeks or less. The diver must also explain why the catch was not weighed using a calibrated scale.
After checking the witness object weight in a calibrated scale, the weighing difference will be proportionally applied to obtain the official weight of the fish.
During the first weighing, the fish weighed 8,550kg and the "witness object" weighed 9,200kg.
When weighed on a calibrated scale, the "witness object" weighed 9,650kg.
The "rule of three" calculation is applied for the following result: 9,650 x 8,550 ˜ 9,200 = 8,968.
The official weight of the fish will be 8,960kg. Should rounding be necessary, the weight must always be rounded down to the lower value.
5.1.9. When a catch cannot be weighed on land and must be weighed at sea, or when the fish is weighed with a not fixed hanging scale, the applicant and at least one witness must submit a short statement describing the high and low measurement indicated on the scale (if any). If there is no movement, that must be said as well.
A photo or video should be taken showing the minimum and maximum weight registered. Any weights that fall between two gradations must be rounded to the lower weight.
5.1.10. Only pictures or video showing the entire fish and scale will be accepted. No application will be accepted without the requested statements.
5.2. Weight requirements for a new record
5.2.1. To replace a record for a fish weighing less than 10 kg replacement must weigh at least 50gr more than the existing record.
5.2.2. To replace a record for a fish weighing 10kg or more, the replacement must weigh point five percent (0,5%) more than the previous record. For example, for a 20,210kg fish to defeat a current record, it must weigh 1,011kg more than the existing record.
5.2.3. Any catch that equals 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. ESRA will not consider any catches that weigh less than the current record.
6.1. Applicants must photograph and record the verification of the fishs weight, length (fork length and total length: see application form), and girth. 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 body contours). Girth shall be measured with the tape conforming tightly to the thickest portion of the body.
6.2. Weights calculated from length and/or girth shall not be accepted, however, a meritorious award may be made for a fish that exceeds both the length and girth of the current record.
6.3. Applicants must have witnesses present for the weighing and measuring of their catch and submit as much documentation as possible with the record application.
6.4. Extreme care should be exercised in measuring the fish, specially when the measurements are important for weight verification and scientific studies. (See the measurement diagram on the record application to be sure you have measured correctly.)
7.1. Application form
7.1.1. The spearfisher must submit a completed ESRA application form, along with all required documentation, within six months after capture.
7.1.2. Divers must record the date, exact location, common name, and scientific name of their catch on an official application. The application form must be as detailed as possible.
7.1.3. The application must be prepared in English, French, Spanish, Italian, or Portuguese.
7.1.4 The form can be filled out, scanned, and sent by email. Witness accounts and reports of the capture, as well as any other information relating to the capture, measuring, or weighing, can be delivered separately from the application form and must bear the witness signature.
7.1.5. If the diver is unable to provide any of the information requested on the application form, the applicant must explain why this information is not provided. An incomplete application will be accepted only if the missing information is not the responsibility of the bidder; its acceptance shall be subject to the decision of the ESRA.
7.1.6 All the data of the application file is confidential, with the exception of the description of the capture. Should the hunter prefer to maintain confidentiality of one or several pieces of information within the capture description, he or she must expressly indicate this wish.
7.1.7 ESRA reserves the right to confirm all information in the application file, including the reports of witnesses.
7.1.8. Deliberate falsification of an application will disqualify the record and any further applications by the applicant; any existing records will be nullified. Anyone who knowingly collaborates, assists, or furthers fraudulent applications will be disqualified. If an ESRA Member or representative perpetuates this act, they will be immediately removed from their position at ESRA Board and will not be eligible for future consideration as Member or representative.
7.1.9. The submission of application will be free.
7.1.10. If desired by the applicant, ESRA may issue a certificate of record. The price of the certificate will be as indicated at ESRA website.
Photographs must be submitted with the application and provide sufficient detail for unequivocal species determination. All submitted photographs will become the property of the ESRA, who may publish the photos as deemed 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 record application submission. 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.
7.2.1. 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 each application. Video registration will be welcome.
7.2.2. In all cases, pictures of the fish should be taken in a hanging position and also lying on a flat surface. 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.
7.2.3. 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 if possible.
7.2.4. Photographs from various angles are most helpful.
7.2.5. A photograph of the fish on the scale with the actual weight visible is required. Pictures or video must show the entire fish on the scale.
7.2.6. In-water photographs, while not required, are requested if available.
7.3. Description of the catch
ESRA’s acceptance of the application is, in part, dependent upon the completeness of the description of the hunt and capture. Applicants must include gun type, terminal gear, depth at which the fish was speared, names of other divers present, name of the dive boat, whether chum was used, 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.).
7.4. Witnesses of 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 ESRA rules.
If the hunter can not provide direct witnesses of the capture, he or she must indicate the name of the other divers who were with him or her in the water, who witnessed his or her arrival in the land, or any other indirect testimony of capture.
Witnesses should indicate the conditions under which they witnessed the capture on the application form. If possible, witnesses of the various phases (capture, measuring, and weighing) should not be the same.
© European Spearfishing Records Association (Dec.2020)