Is Spearfishing Legal in California?

Spearfishing is a popular sport and pastime in California. It is a great way to enjoy the outdoors, get exercise, and take home some fresh seafood. Unfortunately, there are many regulations that one must follow in order to legally spearfish in California.

First, it is important to understand that it is illegal to spearfish in all marine protected areas (MPAs). These areas are designated by the Department of Fish and Wildlife and are intended to protect fragile habitats and species.

Anyone caught spearfishing in an MPA can face hefty fines or even jail time. Also, it is illegal to use spearguns or any other type of gear that has a trigger mechanism or projectile.

In addition, the Department of Fish and Wildlife requires that anyone over 16 years old obtain a fishing license before spearfishing in California waters. Licenses can be obtained online or at any sporting goods store. It is also important to note that each fishing license only covers one person and must be renewed annually.

Finally, there are certain restrictions on the size of fish one can take while spearfishing in California waters. For example, all rockfish must be between 12-22 inches long and all lingcod must be between 22-36 inches long. Taking undersized fish can result in fines or other penalties.


In conclusion, while spearfishing may be legal in California waters with the proper permits, there are many regulations and restrictions one must follow if they wish to do so safely and legally. Therefore, anyone considering taking up spearfishing should familiarize themselves with the laws before heading out on their fishing trip.

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Emma Gibson