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U.S. Congress Bill Would Ban Shark Feeding
By Joseph Tepper, July 18, 2016 @ 09:57 AM (EST)

Outrage is growing in the dive community over a proposed bill in the U.S. Congress that would ban the act of shark feeding entirely within federal waters. According to Section 3 of S. 3099, the “Access for Sportfishing Act of 2016,” the following would be made illegal:

               “(1) to engage in shark feeding; or
               “(2) to operate a vessel for the purpose of carrying a passenger for hire to any site to engage in shark feeding or to observe shark feeding…
               …The term ‘shark feeding’ means the introduction of food or any other substance into the water to feed or attract sharks for any purpose other than to harvest sharks.”

 

The bill comes from Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), and suggests that shark feeding is acceptable for fishing, but not ecotourism. Opponents of the bill believe shark feeding is a necessary means to bring sharks close enough to divers. Such encounters are argued to have significant value in dispelling negative myths surrounding the much-maligned animals.

Supporters of banning shark feeding argue that such actions change the natural behavior of the animals, associating food with humans. Having said that, researchers from the University of Miami, including Neil Hammerschlag and Austin Gallagher, published a study suggesting that shark feeding has essentially no impact on the animal’s natural behavior.

As of now, some states already have laws in place prohibiting shark feeding in local waters. Operators are often able to operate legally by heading miles off shore into federal water. If this bill were passed, such action would be unlawful, likely decimating all shark ecotourism in the United States.

You can track the progress of the bill, here.

h/t [Southern Fried Science]

 

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