The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has banned spearfishing gear in the Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary.
The ban went into effect earlier this year.
One of the most popular sportfishing areas on the Georgia coast, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary is one of the largest near shore live-bottom reefs in the southeastern United States.
More than 180 species of fish including mackerel, grouper, black sea bass, angelfish, and endangered species such as loggerhead sea turtles, live in and around the varied ecosystems of the reef, which is located 17.5 nautical miles off Sapelo Island.
Spear guns make it easy for divers to select the largest specimens, which can lead to downward pressure on the size of subsequent generations. The agency believes the ban will also reinforce an existing ban on bangsticks or powerheads, a specialized firearm that discharges on contact with the target, as these often are attached to the end of spear guns for self-defense underwater.