Why It Matters: Healthy coastal habitats are important for many recreationally important species like striped bass and red snapper. Many of our coastal areas are increasingly challenged by environmental factors such as warming water temperatures, rising sea levels, and storm surge to anthropogenic impacts caused by leveeing rivers and reducing sediment flows to our marshes. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) has supported both the RISEE and REEF acts as opportunities to invest in healthier habitats from estuaries to offshore artificial reefs.
- Introduced by Representatives Salazar and Case, the Reusing Equipment for Environmental Fortification (REEF) Act (H.R. 950) will provide a pathway for retired naval vessels to become artificial reefs, providing habitat for important recreational reef fish species and a boost for local coastal economies.
- Senators Whitehouse and Cassidy recently reintroduced the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economics and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act (S. 373), which would amend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) and create a similar dedicated funding stream from future offshore wind development for the purposes of coastal protection and resiliency.
Two CSF-backed bipartisan bills that invest in coastal habitat were reintroduced in the 118th Congress last week. Specifically,the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies (RISEE) Act and the Reusing Equipment for Environmental Fortification (REEF) Act, both of which will improve habitat for fish and anglers.
Introduced in a bipartisan fashion by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and CSC Member Senator Bill Cassidy (LA), the RISEE Act will provide for increased funding for coastal protection and resiliency. The bill will eliminate the existing state revenue-sharing cap by amending the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), providing much-needed financial resources to Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas to address coastal erosion and wetland loss. Additionally, the RISEE Act would diversify federal conservation funding by ensuring a portion of the royalties collected from offshore wind projects is directed to the states where the energy is produced, as well as the adjacent states for coastal resiliency, wetland restoration, hurricane protection, and infrastructure improvements to conserve fish, wildlife, and their associated habitats.
The REEF Act, introduced by Representative Maria Elvira Salazar (FL) and Representative Ed Case (HI), will establish a pathway to securing retired Naval vessels for use as artificial reef structures in the nation’s coastal waters. Specifically, the bill would require the Secretary of the Navy to notify Congress no later than 90 days of the retirement of a vessel from the Naval Vessel Register that is a viable candidate for reefing. The REEF Act provides an opportunity to create new, vibrant marine ecosystems and recreational fishing destinations. Not only is legislation ideal for marine life and anglers, but also for local economies which can benefit from the spending power of anglers.
CSF looks forward to working with the bill sponsors to enact these two important, bipartisan bills in this Congress and provide additional investments that benefit both anglers and our coastal fisheries resources.