REEF Act could benefit marine environments if passed by Congress.
Senator Roger Wicker joined Senator Marco Rubio, R-FLa in introducing the Reusing Equipment for Environmental Fortification (REEF) Act.
The REEF Act encourages the Navy to prioritize the repurposing of retired vessels into artificial reefs to reinforce marine environments and create both recreational and economic opportunities.
“Anglers and ecologists alike understand that supplying fish and other marine life with new habitats is great not only for the environment, but also for the local economies that rely upon fishing and diving,” Wicker said. “Providing a new pathway for retired naval vessels to become artificial reefs is a great way that Congress can come together to support our coastal communities.”
The bill could ensure that Congress be given advance notice if a vessel is expected to be retired. This would give the body additional oversight and opportunities to seek the transfer of eligible vessels to state and local governments for artificial reefing purposes.
“Florida’s marine ecosystems are of vital importance to the state’s biodiversity, economy and way of life,” Rubio said. “The REEF Act would create new opportunities to utilize retiring navy ships as artificial reefs to the benefit of marine life and Florida’s tourism-based economy.”
Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar, R-Fla., introduced bipartisan companion legislation in the House of Representatives.
“As a representative from a coastal district, I know first-hand that we must do more to support our marine ecosystems,” Salazar said. “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.”