2012 Fishing/Spearfishing In the Bahamas for Cruisers

2.2012 …. an up to date clarification in the ongoing debate regarding spearfishing in the Bahamas….  I wrote the Bahamas Dept of Fisheries to get the real deal directly from the person in charge.  Here is the e-mail letter I received on February 22, 2012 that resolves all the questions and makes it very clear what the rules are.  (Note:  the photo is David spearfishing in another cruising ground where it was legal.)

We already know to ask for the fishing permit when you check in to the Bahamas.  It’s included in the cruising fees, but they may not automatically issue you the fishing permit except by request.  It is required to fish, so don’t overlook this step.  Also, Mr Lloyd below says the  “has the expressed permission to use the Hawaiian Sling from the Bahamian border official issuing the permit”.  This seems to imply that we must ask not only for the fishing permit but also for the Hawaiian Sling specification.

We figure depending on where we check in, the officials may or may not be cognizant of this information.  So we’ll print out a copy of the e-mail below and take it with us, just in case there’s any question when asking for the permit with the Hawaiian Sling permission.

Bahamas here we come WITH our Hawaiian Sling fully ready, with newly replaced bands so we won’t have any incidents with bands breaking and no replacements available!  🙂

Dear Ms. Irons,

Please be advised that spearfishing is not illegal in The Bahamas from a foreign owned vessel provided that the vessel’s master obtains a sportfishing permit at a Bahamian port of entry and has the expressed permission to use the Hawaiian Sling from the Bahamian border official issuing the permit.

If you wish to spearfish from the shore with a Hawaiian Sling in the Exumas, a permit is not needed. Please however note that you must be 200 yards offshore before conducting any spearfishing activities. Please note that Exuma has a marine protected area managed by the Bahamas National Trust where no fishing or collecting is permitted without approval. The area is from Wax Cay to Conch Cut and is strictly enforced by park wardens.

Please visit this website Regulations – Fishing Regulations:  Bahamas for more information (scroll down to the bottom for the current fishing regulations).  Wishing you a pleasant visit to The Bahamas.

Yours sincerely,

Gilford Lloyd
for Director of Marine Resources
Department of Marine Resources
P. O. Box N 3028
Nassau, Bahamas
Tel 242-393-1777
Fax 242-393-0238


If you’re at all curious about a Hawaiian Sling…. here’s the Wikipedia definition…

Winterlude's Untested Hawaiian Sling ... Ready for Action

Winterlude's Untested Hawaiian Sling ... Ready for Action (the Spear is Under the Settee)

The Hawaiian sling is a device used in spearfishing. The sling operates much like a bow and arrow, although we’d describe it more like a slingshot than a bow and arrow, but energy is stored in rubber tubing rather than a wooden or fiberglass shaft.  Mechanically the device is simple, the only moving parts are the spear shaft and the rubber tubing.  A loop of tubing is attached to a block of material, often wood, with a hole drilled in it which is slightly larger in diameter than the shaft.  The shaft is placed in the hole, notched in the loop and pulled back, tensioning the tubing.  When the shaft is released, the tubing propels it forward, faster and further than a spear thrown by a diver by hand.

The Hawaiian sling has some similarities to spearguns and polespears, in that all are powered by energy stored in the rubber tubing.  However, it occupies a middle ground between the two, the sling is somewhat more powerful than a polespear, but less powerful than a speargun.  Triggered spearguns are banned in the Bahamas, so this will be a new experiment aboard Winterlude!   🙂

Anyone have tips to help us learn to use the Hawaiian Sling?  Leave some comments and let us know!  I’m sure we’ll need all the tips we can get! Cheers!  Jan & David



  1. 404 error on the link

  2. hmmm.. this wasn’t supposed to post until tomorrow… but thx for letting me know about the link, I tried it and it worked but now it doesn’t seem to be working. I’ll take it out until I can recontact Mr Lloyd and get a link that works (this is the one he gave me…) … stay posted….

  3. The link is fixed now (2.29.2012 — HAPPY LEAP DAY!).

  4. Martin Henry says:

    Jan and David, I hope you are doing well and enjoying yourself. Curious on how the sling is performing for you. Do you have an “action” pic and current kill count. Let me know, thanks.

  5. Lizzie Mundy says:

    Thanks for the info. Planning our first trip to bahamas and want to spearfish. Are there guides available or is it best to stay on a certain island and just wing it? Thanks

    • Hi Lizzie — It is illegal to spearfish with a speargun in the Bahamas. The only spearfishing to be done is with a Hawaiian Sling, and not in the national park no take zones. Are you taking a boat or flying to the Bahamas. If you’re on a boat, you can do as we do and snorkel every day from your dinghy — I snorkel with my underwater camera and David has his Hawaaian Sling. If he sees dinner, he shoots; if not, it’s still a great snorkel. We didn’t do as much spearfishing last winter as normal — both of us were a bit freaked out by all the sharks in the Bahamas – I don’t care if they are nurse sharks, if you’re not used to swimming with them, they’re intimidating! If you’re traveling to an island via air, I’d probably recommend hiring a guide. Once you get there, ask around, the island folks know who’s good as a guide. Enjoy!

      • You forgot to mention that a pole spear is the other approved spear in the Bahamas. The rule is “no triggered spear devices.” Some pole spears come with a trigger and locking function and this type is illegal!

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