Mathieu Ferreira, 40, is an underwater fisherman from Bouches-du-Rhône. He is the founder of the association “Pêcheurs du cœur” and is also a member of team BEUCHAT France. Before asking him a few questions, it is important to understand the particular approach of this spearfisherman and owner of a professional garage. The creation of the association is closely linked to Mathieu’s personal life. “About ten years ago, my mother had generalized cancer and spent the rest of her life in the palliative care center La Maison de Gardanne. On the eve of her death she asked me if I could bring my caught fish to the patients of the center. She used to enjoy fresh fish with our family. She wanted others to have this opportunity.” To keep this promise to his mother, Mathieu began in 2007 to bring the catch of his spearfishing to La Maison de Gardanne. Gradually, he realized that he was doing much more than just giving fish! He managed to bring a little lightness to the sick. Some even called him the Coluche of the seas (a famous French comic actor also ingaged in social and political activities).
The interview by Patrick Costagliola
Mathieu Ferreira, when and how did you discover spearfishing?
I came to know it when I was very young, at the age of 7. I lived in the northern neighborhoods of Marseille and I started hunting there with the help of a small weasel. It was then that the sea reached to me.
What were your goals when you started spearfishing competitions?
My goal at the time was to join the French team. It was my dream to represent France in various competitions. During that time I won various regional and national trophies.
In France there are fewer and fewer of them than in other countries such as Spain or Italy. What is your opinion on spearfishing competitions?
It is a pity that there are not many competitions today in France. But above all it is negative that the federation is not strong enough to take under its wing the people who have great skills. I think of my friends from Marseille or those from Brittany. Yet, we have great potential to have high-level athletes to represent France in various world competitions.
Today you are an ambassador of the BEUCHAT brand and you also have your own association, “les pêcheurs du cœur”. Has your vision of this sport changed, and that of spearfishing in general?
My vision of spearfishing is simply a way of sharing. Thanks to our passion, thanks to spearfishing, with our association we manage to make people forget the disease at the end of life. We offer good meals for the homeless, beautiful videos for sick children. Today my philosophy is to share the sea as we all know it. To change the negative image of the spearfisherman. We are not bad people, the sea can give us a lot if we respect it.
What is your favorite spearfishing style? What are the best catches?
Since I had the heart attack (Mathieu had a double heart attack) I had to change the way I dived and go less deep than in the past. My favorite type of spearfishing remains the Agguato, but I adapt depending on the weather, the sun and the type of place where I spearfish. The catch I’m most proud of was a seabass of 11.8 kg. Even though I shot some very nice sized amberjacks, this seabass is the one that made the most impression on me.
Spearfishing is not your job, but you are a passionate person. How do you organize yourself to satisfy your passion?
I am fortunate to work with two colleagues who are also spearfishermen. So, as soon as we can, we close the garage a little earlier and go fishing. We organize ourselves. We have meetings at the garage to discuss the management of the association and we plan our future trips during the week. With this team it’s a bit of work and a bit of pleasure.
What equipment do you use, be it wetsuits, fins or spearguns?
Being a BEUCHAT ambassador, I use the brand’s equipment. One is the Beuchat HERO speargun. But in my opinion, you have to try everything and not get stuck on one brand or another. This is the advice I would give to people to be open to anything that is good on the market. That said, I am proud to be a BEUCHAT athlete because the equipment fits me perfectly. Wetsuits in particular, both in quality and appearance.
What advice could you give to beginners who want to start spearfishing?
For me, the amateur who comes into the world of spearfishing should approach a certified school. State-qualified instructors can be follow the beginner in safety. There are too many beginners’ accidents, both in fin freediving and spearfishing. Beginners have a tendency, with increasingly efficient equipment, to want to go very deep when it is not necessary to fish. Above all, they must learn about the marine environment and be aware of their physical and psychological abilities. So, for me, the best solution is to approach professional spearfishermen. There are many of them throughout France. Also, join a hunting club to be followed by more people to begin with.
The youtube channel of Mathieu Ferreira les pêcheurs du coeur is: https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCUlylunq1fQ_M-auAMY_u3w