The Cayman Islands strictly regulates spearguns, requiring licenses and a heavy set of guidelines for their use. This is all subject to increased scrutiny.
Despite noting that it is a traditional Caymanian method of fishing in the British Caribbean territory, the government is debating a limit on licenses, which currently expire every year. The environmental minister, as reported by the Cayman News Service, is concerned with the expanding spear-gun license numbers as that poses an increased threat to fish stocks.
The government doesn’t play and mandates that no one can use a “Hawaiian sling, polespear, harpoon, hookstick or any device with a pointed end which may be used to impale, stab or pierce any marine life but does not include a striker” without a marine license.
Spearguns are likewise banned from import. It doesn’t matter if you are a tourist because licenses are only granted to Caymanians and then only to those over 18. Use of such devices are restricted as well (can’t be used in any lagoon, sound, or body of which is 20 feet or less in depth, within 200 feet of a vessel flying a dive flag, within one mile of any designated grouper spawning area, et. al…) with fines allowed for illegal use up to $500,000.
About 400 people have speargun licenses spread across a population of about 50,000.
It’s not just fishing accessories that are highly regulated under Cayman laws.
There is (one) government authorized shooting club, the Cayman Islands Sport Shooting Association, and it is currently closed to new membership until sometime in 2017. According to Gunpolicy.org, the islands have 922 civilians who own a total of 1,556 registered guns. Semi-auto firearms are banned and there is no right to keep and bear arms.
Owning a firearm without a permit from the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service carries a minimum of 10 years imprisonment. To obtain a license, applicants have to have a letter from a doctor, lawyer, judge or government minister vouching for their character and suitability.
Having ammo without a license is likewise frowned upon. In 2014 a Wyoming resident, visiting the islands on honeymoon, caught a $3,000 fine in lieu of jail time for having 50 rounds of ammo in his luggage that he had forgot about.
Also banned, even with a license, are switchblades, knuckle dusters, “flick knives,” gravity knives, billy clubs, BB guns, pepper spray, catapults and slingshots.
As for the spearguns, the National Conservation Council is set to present their recommendations to Cabinet as to how to further regulate the devices.
But remember, when they outlaw spearguns, only outlaws will have spearguns.