A dozen members of the Florida delegation are backing U.S. Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar’s, R-Fla., proposal which “incentivizes retired Navy ships to be repurposed into artificial reefs, boosting marine environments and creating recreational and economic opportunities in the process.”
Salazar introduced the “Reusing Equipment for Environmental Fortification (REEF) Act” on Tuesday with U.S. Rep. Ed Case, D-Hi., as the main co-sponsor.
“As a representative from a coastal district, I know first-hand that we must do more to support our marine ecosystems,” said Salazar. “I’m proud to introduce a bill that gives us the opportunity to accomplish that by giving our retired navy ships a new purpose, all while creating new recreational opportunities for fishermen and divers that boost local economies.”
“Creating artificial reefs using excess naval vessels can help restore and preserve our fragile ocean ecosystem and create opportunities for those who want to explore the biodiversity that would surround a sunken structure,” said Case. “There are a number of structures, including small boats and planes, in waters off my home state of Hawai‘i that both restore our threatened marine ecosystem and draw those who want to experience our marine life up-close and understand how it must be preserved. Our bill will expand on these opportunities in Hawai‘i and elsewhere.”
Members of the Florida delegation–including Republican U.S. Reps. Gus Bilirakis, Neal Dunn, Scott Franklin, Matt Gaetz, Carlos Gimenez, Brian Mast, John Rutherford, Greg Steube, Michael Waltz and Dan Webster and Democrats U.S. Reps. Val Demings and Stephanie Murphy–are backing the proposal. So are the Florida Wildlife Commission, the Gulf States Marine Fisheries Commission, the National Association of Charter Boat Operators, the Coastal Conservation Association, the Center for Sport Fishing Policy, the Panama City Boatman Association, the American Sportfishing Association and the International Game Fish Association.
Salazar’s proposal was sent to the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. So far, there is no companion measure in the U.S. Senate.