I am currently launching a project that will document the history and current practices of San Diego's free-dive spearfishing community. It will contribute to my long-term interest in small-scale fisheries of the Pacific basin. For the past 20 years, I have been researching various facets of fishing in the Solomon Islands and French Polynesia, exploring the cultural, ecological, and sustainability dimensions. Next year I will extend this research to San Diego which was one of the first locations in the US where free-dive spearfishing became popular. Importantly, San Diego's pioneering spearfishing community contributed to the demise of the nearshore fishery but later they became key advocates for sustainable marine resource management. Today, San Diego's spearfishing community remains vibrant. Thrill-seeking "blue water" spearfishers continue to dominate the community, although a growing number of spearfishers have become vocal proponents of local food systems and sustainable seafood harvesting. These fishers along with many women who have entered the sport engage in "ethical spearfishing" where an ethics of care and intimate attuning to the ocean and the fish they hunt is central to their praxis.
In this project, SDSU undergraduates will be trained to collect ethnographic, historical, and human ecological data about San Diego's spearfishers, research that will reveal the community's long-term trajectory, and the rise of "ethical spearfishing" among some local divers.