Spear-fishing might be the oldest form of fishing on record. Some cave paintings suggest it was done by humans 16,000 years ago (and it may even go further back than that!). There’s documentation of spear-fishing by the ancient Greeks as well and it is still a major sport in Greece today.
Before modern times, spear-fishing was rather simple: you walked out in shallow waters and looked to spear fish. If the fisherman could hold his breath for longer periods of time, he would venture into deep water. With technology advancing, many different types of gear can make the fishing more efficient, including fins, a snorkel, pole spears and wetsuits.
So where are you allowed to spear-fish? The activity is actually strongly regulated throughout the world, generally in the name of conservation. In the United States, laws vary by state, but typically allow fishers to only go a few hundred yards offshore. Many states also only allow it recreationally and not for commercial fishing purposes. Australia has similar conservation laws, in some cases restricting use of scuba gear and other technology. These types of laws exist in Mexico as well. The EU has a blanket law permitting recreational spear-fishing. Norway is notable for having less restrictive laws, since they have a lower population and a lot of coastline.
Spear-fishing is a fun activity that has primal roots, requires skill, and benefits from technology when permitted. To participate, it’s important to get the proper training, and above all else, follow the rules and laws specific to the area you’re in.