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News & Press: Public Policy: Environmental Issues

INDUSTRY ALERT: Shark Feeding Ban

Monday, October 31, 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Rachelle Reimers
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-YOUR HELP IS NEEDED- 
Shark Feeding Ban

 

SUMMARY:
Bill S. 3099 – the “Access for Sportfishing Act of 2016” – contains a provision which, if enacted, would prohibit feeding sharks for any purpose other than harvesting them, and would become the law in all federal waters around the U.S. The bill unnecessarily eliminates the opportunity for thousands of divers each year to actively and safely engage in observing sharks and prevents divers from gaining a better understanding of this creature. By prohibiting shark feeding for essentially all purposes except harvesting them (killing the sharks), the bill will have a detrimental impact on consumers and on the shark population in the US, and will adversely impact businesses that serve the recreational diving industry, including dive operators, vessels used to transport customers to diving locations, hotels, restaurants and transportation services. DEMA is advising all dive businesses to express their concerns to the appropriate members of Congress and share how this bill could affect your business and the citizens you serve.

TAKE ACTION:

  • Please contact your US Representative or US Senator and share how this bill could affect your company’s and the Industry’s bottom line.

 

Earlier this year bill S. 3099 – the “Access for Sportfishing Act of 2016” – was introduced in the US Senate by Senators Bill Nelson (D) and Marco Rubio (R) both of Florida.  The bill contains a provision which, if enacted, would prohibit feeding sharks for any purpose other than harvesting them, and would become the law in all federal waters around the U.S.

 

DEMA is actively opposing this bill.  The premise on which this bill is based – the concept that “provisioning ecotourism” (introducing small amounts of food in the water to interest sharks for the purpose of observation) - somehow “conditions” sharks to associate swimmers, divers and even kayakers with food – is erroneous.

 

The bill unnecessarily eliminates the opportunity for thousands of divers each year to actively and safely engage in observing sharks and prevents divers from gaining a better understanding of this creature.  Research by independent and credible scientists indicates that provisioning ecotourism does NOT create an increased risk for non-divers and swimmers not directly engaged in provisioning ecotourism activities. 

 

By prohibiting shark feeding for essentially all purposes except harvesting them (killing the sharks), the bill will have a detrimental impact on consumers and on the shark population in the US, and will adversely impact businesses that serve the recreational diving industry, including dive operators, vessels used to transport customers to diving locations, hotels, restaurants and transportation services.  The economic effect will be most easily observed in coastal states, but this bill will also have negative effects on dive operators selling travel to any US state or territory where a consumer could otherwise participate in a shark diving experience.

 

As is suggested by researchers in the 2015 study published in Marine Pollution Bulletin, a better approach than is found in S. 3099 is to implement safe marine interaction practices.  Many years ago a group of leading experts in the industry, the Global Interactive Marine Experiences Council (GIMEC), which included operators and scientists, developed safe interactive practices, many of which are incorporated into the experiences used by operators in the US today.  Use of the GIMEC Guidelines would be a better alternative to banning provisioning ecotourism, and not denying thousands of US citizens the opportunity to participate in a marine experience that changes the lives of both the citizen and the shark.

 

DEMA has already submitted comments opposing the bill to Mr. Rubio and Mr. Nelson on behalf of the Industry, including the GIMEC Guidelines.  The comments can be found here

 

We strongly urge you to contact your elected representatives in Congress and share how this bill could affect your company’s and the Industry’s bottom line.  Even though there is currently not a House version of the bill, this language can be added on nearly any bill by Congress at any time.  Your message to your Representative and Senator should be personalized and we encourage you to add details about the work of your organization and how this bill would impact your company and the citizens you serve. 

 

You can find your US Representative by clicking here and entering your Zip Code.

 

You can find your US Senator by clicking here and entering your state.

 

The following text may help guide you:

 

DEMA believes that the shark feeding ban contained in Senate Bill 3099 unnecessarily eliminates the opportunity for thousands of divers each year to actively and safely engage in observing sharks and in gaining a better understanding of this creature.  Research by independent and credible scientists indicates that provisioning ecotourism does NOT create an increased risk for non-divers and swimmers who are not directly engaged in provisioning ecotourism activities.  This bill will have a detrimental economic impact on US coastal areas and islands and will unnecessarily damage the US Recreational Diving Industry.

 

If you are able to contact your Representative or Senator, and receive any kind of feedback, please let us know right away.  DEMA will continue to work toward opposing this bill and share updates on this issue as they become available. If you have questions about this issue, please email DEMA at publicpolicy@dema.org or contact us at 858-616-6408.  

 

DEMA, The Diving Equipment & Marketing Association | US Toll Free: (800) 862-3483 | Ph: (858) 616-6408 | Fx: (858) 616-6495 | info@dema.org