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International Underwater Spearfishing Association - IUSA Records

Welcome to the International Underwater Spearfishing Association Web Site!

International Underwater Spearfishing Association - IUSA Records
IUSA Records

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, 1997.

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.



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 fish
  • (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.
    Any 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.
  6. 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 diver.
    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.

  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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Fish must be free-swimming, unrestricted by nets, traps, fishing lines or other devices.
  6. 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
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. Fish mutilated by anything other than the spearfishing equipment of the applicant are not allowed.
  10. The use of artificial light sources for night spearfishing is not allowed.  
  11. Determination of a diver’s gender shall follow the International Olympic Committee (IOC) policy in place at the time the fish is landed.

  1. Spearguns: The gun must be charged with muscle power only; no explosive or compressed power is allowed.
  2. 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 to store potential positive energy.. Includes gear commonly known as sling, Hawaiian sling, polespear, three prong, etc.
  3. 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).
  4. 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)
  5. 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.
  6. Artificial breathing apparatus: No artificial breathing apparatus is allowed.

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.


  1. 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 record.
  2. 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.
  3. Any catch 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.


  1. 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.
  2. The mouth may be secured to prevent stomach contents from falling out. If stomach contents should accidentally fall out, they cannot be replaced.
  3. Fish must be clean when weighed--no sand or dirt may be clinging to them.
  4. Fish may be frozen before they are weighed. If still frozen while being weighed, any adhering ice must be removed.
  5. The weight of the sling or rope (if used to secure the fishor close the mouth) must be subtracted from the total weight.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. The IUSA reserves the right to have the scales recertified or checked.
  12. 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.


  1. 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.
  2. 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 record.
  3. Catch weighing or measurement must be witnessed and as much documentation as possible should accompany the application for the record.
  4. 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 of movement.
  5. 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.
  6. IUSA may require that video be submitted as evidence that no assistance was provided loading extra-large, multi-banded bluewater spearguns or other equipment that is difficult to load The video should preferably be taken the same day but may be taken afterwards. The video must be taken with the same speargun, shaft and bands that were used to shoot the fish. The loading should occur in the water and can be filmed from a boat or land, provided it is clear that the gun is fully loaded at the end of the process.
  7. In the case of Ouf Sénégalais, provide either :
    1. Verification of identity by a trained, professional ichthyologist with expertise with these species ; or
    2. Thorough photo documentation with high resolution photos of...
      1. The scales between the spiny portion of the dorsal fin and the lateral line.
      2. Gill rakers on the first arch.
      3. The spines (first 3) on the anal fin.
      4. Profile photo of the fish laying on its side showing body proportions and head shape.


  1. Divers must record the date, exact location, common name and scientific name of their catch on an official application.
  2. Photographs, preferably 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 each application.
    • 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 if possible.
    • 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.
  3. 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.).
  4. 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.
  5. Time limits of claims: Complete application should be submitted within 6 months of date of capture.
  6. 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.


  1. The Spearfisher must submit a completed IUSA application form along with all required documentation.
  2. The application must be prepared in English.
  3. Applicant must fill out and submit the form online.
  4. 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 measured correctly.)
  5. 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.
  6. The application fee is $25 for IUSA members, $35 for non-members.


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.
  1. 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.
  2. Deliberate falsification of an application will disqualify the record and any further applications by the applicant, and any existing records will be nullified.
  3. 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 representative.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. In the event an applicant makes or has made disparaging remarks about IUSA or any of its board members, IUSA will have the right to refuse applications and deny issuing records to said applicant.

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:

  1. It is considered endangered by internationally recognized communities
  2. Its biology predisposes it to overfishing (such as sharks)
  3. It is not usually harvested for consumption and/or is a catch-and-release fishery trophy
  4. 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