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Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar Introduces the Bipartisan REEF Act

September 22, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Congresswoman María Elvira Salazar (FL-27), Congressman Ed Case (HI-01), and a strong bipartisan group of their colleagues introduced the Reusing Equipment for Environmental Fortification (REEF) Act. The REEF Act incentivizes retired Navy ships to be repurposed into artificial reefs, boosting marine environments and creating recreational and economic opportunities in the process.

“As a representative from a coastal district, I know first-hand that we must do more to support our marine ecosystems,” said Representative 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 Representative 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.”

The REEF Act is great for the environment, provides unique opportunities for veterans, and boosts regional and local economies. It is widely supported by several national environmental and business groups, including 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, and the Panama City Boatman Association.

“We are pleased to support the REEF act as Florida is home to more than 3,800 artificial reefs, including four decommissioned vessels from the U.S. Navy,” said Florida Wildlife Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Fish love artificial reefs, divers love artificial reefs, Florida’s businesses love the business anglers and divers bring to the state, and Navy veterans can celebrate the military history and legacy of ships when they are used as artificial reefs.”

A number of notable fishing and boating associations, including the American Sportfishing Association and the International Game Fish Association, penned a letter of support for the REEF Act as well.

“By requiring Congress to report viable naval vessels for artificial reefing, the REEF Act will help create new marine ecosystems and recreational fishing opportunities,” read the letter. “Not only is this exciting legislation for marine life and anglers, but also for local economies that can benefit from the spending power of anglers.”

You can read the full letter of support here.

List of cosponsors: 

  • Rep. Ed Case (HI-01)
  • Rep. Michael Waltz (FL-06)
  • Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18)
  • Rep. Gus Bilirakis (FL-12)
  • Rep. Carlos Gimenez (FL-26)
  • Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL-07)
  • Rep. Jefferson Van Drew (NJ-02)
  • Rep. Elaine Luria (VA-02)
  • Rep. John Curtis (UT-03)
  • Rep. Thomas Suozzi (NY-03)
  • Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26)
  • Rep. Greg Steube (FL-17)
  • Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (PR-At Large)
  • Rep. John Rutherford (FL-04)
  • Rep. Matt Gaetz (FL-01)
  • Rep. Neal Dunn (FL-02)
  • Rep. Val Butler Demings (FL-10)
  • Rep. Scott Franklin (FL-15)
  • Rep. Tom Rice (SC-07)
  • Rep. Daniel Webster (FL-11)

Groups: Coastal Conservation Association, Center for Sportfishing Policy, American Sportfishing Association, Boat U.S., International Gamefish Association, Gulf States Marine Fisheries, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Diving Equipment and Marketing Association, Conservation Diver Association, and the National Association of Charter Boat Operators.