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SPEAR FISHERMEN WEIGH-IN

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Eric Cruz was the representative from NOAA Fisheries Services who was weighing and observing each catch that was submitted. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

The Marianas Underwater Fishing Federation held their eighth annual Marianas Spear-Fishing Challenge Saturday near the Guam Fishermen’s Cooperative Association building at the Hagatna Marina.

After several days of pouring rain, 43 spear-fishermen took their spears to the water to see who can catch the biggest fish in this year’s annual competition. But although it is a competition, the overall goals for the event is “to promote camaraderie and safety among the spear-fishermen and to promote a bit of conservation as well,” according to MUFF President James Borja.

To promote camaraderie among the members of the spear-fishing community, their were no limits to where the teams-of-two could hunt; they had the freedom to spear anywhere around the island, with the exception of the inner portion of the harbor and marine preserves of course. However, to promote safety of the sport, the competitors were required to follow the “one up, one down” rule which means that while one partner is on a dive, the other remains on the surface observing his partner to ensure his safe return to the surface.

Carl Dela Cruz and BJ Rolinski placed seventh and were among the first teams to submit their catch. (photo by Errol Alegre, Jr.)

And for the conservation aspect of the event, each free-diver was challenged to not only submit their largest fish, but also to try and catch special types of fish: Lagua (Parrot Fish), Tataga (Unicorn Fish), Guili (Rutter Fish), Salmonete (Goat Fish), and Hangon (Orange Spine Unicorn Fish). They were challenged to submit seven fish: two of their largest open-category fish and one fish for each of the five special categories. All fish that were submitted were weighed and photographed.

In addition to the weighing and recording, a representative from NOAA Fisheries Services was on scene to observe any fish that were needed for further studying.

Prizes, such as spear guns and free dive computers, were given to whoever brought in the largest fish for each category. There were also raffle prizes which helped raise funds for the coordination of future events.

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