Rep. Curbelo Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Eliminate Lionfish

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Washington, March 17, 2016 | comments

Washington, D.C.—Today, Rep. Curbelo (FL-26) introduced bipartisan legislation, the “Finding Innovative Lionfish Elimination Technologies (FILET) Act of 2016," H.R. 4787. 

"For decades, coastal communities along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico have faced a growing ecological and economic threat from Lionfish, an invasive species of marine animal. Lionfish have no natural predators in our region and a single female lionfish can lay up to 2 million eggs per year. They’ve been known to consume up to 40 sportfish per day which has had devastating effects on the recreational fishing industry in South Florida. Lionfish also consume herbivores, which clean algae from our coral reefs. Without these herbivores, algae continues to grow, resulting in detrimental consequences to the health of our coral reefs.

To address this major risk to South Florida’s marine fisheries, habitats, and eco-systems, I have  introduced the “Finding Innovative Lionfish Elimination Technologies Act of 2016.” This legislation will award competitive grants to universities to completely eliminate this invasive species. I am proud to introduce this bipartisan piece of legislation alongside Members of Congress who share my concerns for environmental and ecological conservation and to have the support of the Ocean Conservancy."

Statement from Rep. Clawson (FL-19) 
"As a resident of Southwest Florida and as an avid diver who cherishes our natural resources I have first-hand knowledge that the lionfish in our waters are devastating," stated Congressman Curt Clawson (FL-19). "The recreational collection of lionfish in Florida has contributed significantly to the reduction of our native fish population; a population that sustains our way of life in Florida.  It is astounding to me that as a country we are still importing thousands of these dangerous fish from Southeast Asia every year.  This needs to stop immediately. These fish are significantly reducing our native fish populations - and we must take action to eliminate these predators."

Jeff Barger, Ocean Conservancy’s Associate Director for Constituent Outreach, stated the following:

 “Although beautiful creatures, lionfish pose a clear and present threat to healthy marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico. Lionfish are voracious predators and consume great quantities of commercially, recreationally and ecologically important species such as snappers and groupers. The full impact potential of lionfish on marine ecosystem is unknown. Rep Curbelo’s (R- FL, 26th) bill will provide a much needed boost in the funding to study our lionfish problem, better understand the impacts and develop ways to mitigate against the invasion.” 

H.R. 4787 was introduced on March 17, 2016 by Reps. Curbelo  (FL-26), Clawson (FL-19) and Hastings (FL-20). To view the bill text, please click here

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