The Supporting the Health of Aquatic systems through Research, Knowledge and Enhanced Dialogue (SHARKED) Act would establish a task force to work with fisheries management groups to address the problems posed by increased shark depredation.
The task force would also identify research and funding opportunities for improving the current conditions of shark depredation.
Congressman Rob Wittman of Virginia introduced the bipartisan legislation, which passed by the U.S. House yesterday.
“As a lifelong fisherman and former marine scientist, I’ve experienced firsthand the impacts of shark depredation and have witnessed its effect on our marine ecosystem,” Wittman said. “With the passage of my SHARKED Act today, we are taking important steps to conserve our marine life and protect sharks from unsafe conditions and food sources. At a time when Washington is often paralyzed with partisan gridlock, it is refreshing and encouraging to see bipartisan efforts like the SHARKED Act advance through the House. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this piece of legislation so the president can sign it into law.”
Congressman Garret Graves of Louisiana, Congressman Darren Soto of Florida and Congressman Marc Veasey of Texas joined Wittman in introducing the bill in June. The bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee in September.
“Shark depredation is an issue affecting fishermen nationwide that needs to be addressed,” said Chairman Bruce Westerman of Arkansas and the House Natural Resources Committee. “H.R. 4051 provides critical resources enabling the federal government to work with local communities to develop innovative solutions to the problem. Representative Wittman has been at the forefront of tackling this issue, and I look forward to working with him to pass this bill into law.”
According to Mike Leonard, vice president of government affairs at the American Sportfishing Association, passing the legislation “is a demonstration of the breadth of support for this important bill. Saltwater recreational fishing is a huge part of the nation’s economy, contributing $73.8 billion in sales impacts and supporting 487,000 U.S. jobs. In many parts of the country, shark depredation is one of the top concerns of the recreational fishing community.”