Stephanie Murphy, Brian Mast Champion the Marine Mammal Research and Response Act

Two members of the Florida delegation on Capitol Hill–Democrat U.S. Rep. Stephanie Murphy and Republican U.S. Rep Brian Mast–have teamed up on the “Marine Mammal Research and Response Act.”

Murphy introduced the bill last week with Mast and U.S. Rep. Marilyn Strickland, D-Wash., as co-sponsors.

“The Marine Mammal Research and Response Act increases funding for two initiatives—the Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program and the Unusual Mortality Event fund—that the federal government uses to support efforts by local governments and non-profit organizations to rescue and rehabilitate sick and injured marine mammals and to determine what is causing the mammals to experience problems,” Murphy’s office noted.

“Floridians take great pride in on our state’s diverse wildlife, like manatees, dolphins, and other marine mammals. As we see from surging manatee deaths in Florida, these creatures need our help,” said Murphy on Friday. “I’m proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will bolster federal support for efforts to rescue and rehabilitate marine mammals that are in distress, and to improve emergency response and scientific research so we can act before it’s too late.”

“Decades of special-interest driven policy making, including unfettered pollution and toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee, have destroyed the ecology of our waterways and repeatedly turned the Indian River Lagoon into an algae-infested toxic waterway that kills manatees. Sadly, these animals are also the so-called ‘canary in the coal mine’ for a massive public health crisis in our state that must be stopped ASAP,” said Mast. “This bipartisan legislation will provide federal support for efforts to rescue and rehabilitate these mammals, while also strengthening efforts to stop this destruction before it’s too late.”

The bill would create the “Joseph R. Geraci Marine Mammal Rescue and Rapid Response Fund” which is “named after a late scientist and veterinarian who was a leading expert in marine mammal medicine and aquatic wildlife conservation” and “would ensure that local governments and non-profit organizations can quickly access funding to treat marine mammals with emergency health conditions.”

The proposal would also create the “Marine Mammal Health Monitoring and Analysis Platform” which would “collect and report more data regarding marine mammal deaths, and directs the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine to study marine mammal mortality events.”

The bill was sent to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee last week. Over in the U.S. Senate, U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the chairwoman of the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee is sponsoring the bill.

 

Reach Kevin Derby at kevin.derby@floridadaily.com.

 

KEVIN DERBY
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