US Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Roger Wicker (R-MS) have introduced the Reusing Equipment for Environmental Fortification (REEF) Act.
The legislation would encourage the US Navy to prioritize the repurposing of retired vessels into artificial reefs to reinforce marine environments and create both recreational and economic opportunities. The bill would ensure that Congress is given advance notice when a vessel is expected to be retired, providing lawmakers with 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. 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.”
And Wicker added:
“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. 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.”
Congresswoman Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) introduced bipartisan companion legislation in the US House of Representatives. According to her:
“As a representative from a coastal district, I know first-hand that we must do more to support our marine ecosystems. 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.”