U.S. House Passes “Reef” Bill, Awaits Senate Action - The Fisherman

U.S. House Passes “Reef” Bill, Awaits Senate Action

On September 23, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a measure that will provide opportunities for retired Navy ships to be considered for artificial reefs. This language was included as an amendment to H.R. 4350, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022, which passed the House and awaits action by the full U.S. Senate.

The amendment was based on the Reusing Equipment for Environmental Fortification (REEF) Act, introduced by Rep. María Salazar (R-FL) and cosponsored by a bipartisan group of her colleagues including Rep. Jeff Van Drew (R-NJ. By increasing opportunities for retired naval vessels to be considered for artificial reefs, the REEF Act would help create new marine ecosystems and recreational fishing opportunities.

“Decommissioned vessels have successfully been converted into artificial reefs off our nation’s coastlines, benefiting the marine environment and becoming valuable fishing destinations,” said Mike Leonard, vice president of Government Affairs at the American Sportfishing Association (ASA).  “The REEF Act would help give retired naval vessels an honorable new purpose, strengthening the ocean ecosystems that coastal communities and anglers depend on,” Leonard added.

A letter supporting the inclusion of the REEF Act into the larger NDAA bill included ASA, Coastal Conservation Association, International Game Fish Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association and Recreational Fishing Alliance.