The Need for Marine Life Protection Highlighted at DEMA Dive In Day
Monday, March 25, 2019
Posted by: Rachelle Reimers
** Florida Legislators and DEMA Members Connect on Shark Finning and Sunscreen Bills **
On March 20th, DEMA President & CEO Tom Ingram and DEMA Legislative Advocate Bob Harris met with Florida Legislators to discuss several bills proposed that, if enacted, would help protect marine life in that state. The meetings were part of DEMA’s annual Dive In Day at the Capitol. This annual event showcases recreational diving’s importance to Florida’s economy by encouraging DEMA Members to exhibit inside the Tallahassee Florida Capitol building entrance hall and to speak with Florida lawmakers. There is no cost for DEMA Members to exhibit or participate.
Seven DEMA Member companies exhibited in the capitol building this year, displaying a diversity of products and services. DEMA is thankful to the following companies for their exhibit participation, and participation in the Dive In Day program:
Artificial Reefs International
Florida Public Archaeology Network
National Association of Underwater Instructors (NAUI)
Red Alert Diving
Bob Harris and Tom Ingram met with several lawmakers and their staff members, asking them to support key bills in Florida; SB 708, prohibiting the sale of sunscreens containing coral-damaging oxybenzone and octinoxate, and House Bill (HB) 99 and its Senate companion Bill (SB) 352, prohibiting the sale of shark find and ray parts in the state. DEMA issued Public Policy Alerts, including links to research on the sunscreen issue, earlier in the month.
During Dive In Day, Harris and Ingram met with:
- Representative Toby Overdorf, Stuart, FL
- Senator Jeff Brandes, St. Petersburg, FL
- Senator Travis Hutson, Palm Coast, FL
- Representative Spencer Roach, Fort Myers, FL
- Senator Linda Stewart, Orlando, FL
The research and economic impact of the diving community were of great interest to all these lawmakers, and we thank them for their time and interest as DEMA offered support for protecting the Florida marine environment.
Unfortunately for the Florida diving community, these bills look unlikely to pass in the current Florida legislative session but are likely to be raised again later in 2019. It remains critical for the diving industry to keep watch on these issues so we can help get them across the finish line as soon as possible.