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Wittman, Soto, Graves, Veasey Introduce Legislation to Protect Marine Ecosystems From Shark Depredation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This week, Representatives Rob Wittman (VA-01), Darren Soto (FL-09), Garret Graves (LA-06), and Marc Veasey (TX-33) introduced the Supporting the Health of Aquatic systems through Research, Knowledge, and Enhanced Dialogue (SHARKED) Act. The SHARKED Act will establish a task force to work with fisheries management groups to address the problems posed by increased shark depredation and identify research and funding opportunities for improving the current conditions of shark depredation.

“As a lifelong fisherman, I’ve experienced firsthand the impacts of shark depredation and have witnessed its effect on our marine ecosystem,” said Congressman Wittman. “I introduced the SHARKED Act to improve the environment of our marine life and sportfishing conditions for anglers while protecting sharks from unsafe conditions and food sources. The SHARKED Act will also serve as the first major step in addressing shark depredation nationwide. I’m proud to have my colleagues on both sides of the aisle join me in this important effort and lead the way for restoring our marine ecosystem and improving fishing experiences for anglers.”

“We must act now to help recreational anglers and commercial fishermen across Florida and the U.S. who are reporting an increase in shark depredation — a phenomenon that negatively impacts fishing experiences, threatens the safety of sharks and humans, and hurts the sustainability of targeted fish populations,” Congressman Soto said. “That is why I am proud to co-introduce the Supporting the Health of Aquatic Systems through Research Knowledge and Enhanced Dialogue Act  (SHARKED) Act, a bill that will direct the Department of Commerce to establish a task force to combat shark depredation and help Florida fishermen while protecting the future of the fishing industry and our marine ecosystems.”

“It’s becoming way too common for Louisiana’s anglers to reel in a hooked red snapper only to realize it’s been chomped in half by sharks. We already pay too much in taxes – the tax collector taking more off the top is salt in the wound,” Congressman Graves said. “The SHARKED Act will bring in experts to better understand these populations and unusual animal behaviors and help us keep more of our catch.”

Supporting organizations: American Fisheries Society, American Sportfishing Association, Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, BoatUS, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust, Center for Sportfishing Policy, Coastal Conservation Association, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Guy Harvey Foundation, International Game Fish Association, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Professional Anglers Association, and Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

To read the full bill text, click the attached file.