Keith Lusher 02.12.24
Ask any offshore angler about the increase in shark attacks on hooked fish and they’ll probably tell you it’s gotten out of hand. Jake Donner is one of those anglers. Donner fishes the Gulf of Mexico for Red Snapper and says something needs to be done. “When your entire strategy for the day revolves around dodging sharks, something is wrong with the management of these fish,” Donner said. “We are losing nearly half our fish to sharks right now. It’s such a waste.” Donner is just one of many who are applauding the latest step forward in the attempt to control the shark population along the coastal US.
With no friction, the bipartisan SHARKED Act, introduced by Representatives Rob Wittman (R-VA.), Marc Veasey (D-TX), Garret Graves (R-LA), and Darren Soto (D-FL.) unanimously cleared the chamber.
The 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 and former marine scientist, I’ve experienced firsthand the impacts of shark depredation and have witnessed its effect on our marine ecosystem,” said Congressman Wittman. “With the passage of my SHARKED Act today, we are taking important steps to conserve our marine life and protect sharks from unsafe conditions and food sources. At a time when Washington is often paralyzed with partisan gridlock, it is refreshing and encouraging to see bipartisan efforts like the SHARKED Act advance through the House. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to pass this piece of legislation so the president can sign it into law.”
The American Sportfishing Association is a leading organization that is on board with the SHARKED Act. Mike Leonard is the vice president of government affairs of the ASA and said, “Today’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives to unanimously pass the SHARKED Act is a demonstration of the breadth of support for this important bill,” said Leonard. “Saltwater recreational fishing is a huge part of the nation’s economy, contributing $73.8 billion in sales impacts and supporting 487,000 U.S. jobs. In many parts of the country, shark depredation is one of the top concerns of the recreational fishing community. We are grateful to Reps. Wittman, Soto and the other bill sponsors for advancing the SHARKED Act, which will help develop thoughtful and meaningful ways to mitigate this complicated challenge.”
The SHARKED Act now moves on to the Senate and if signed into law by President Biden, will finally be able to put together a task force to better understand issues related to increased shark depredation in U.S. fisheries and explore opportunities for improving current conditions.