Florida Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R) has reintroduced a bill that would provide minority youth with opportunities to interact with marine environments. The bipartisan bill called the Youth Coastal Fishing Program Act was reintroduced by Salazar and California Rep. Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D).
The legislation establishes a grant program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that would fund community-based programs for minority youth. The programs would include fishing trips to the Ocean and Great Lakes.
Moreover, the bill also promotes equitable access to the country’s outdoors. It would provide on-the-water experiences for the youth, and it would provide the opportunity for them to interact with marine environment. They would receive lessons in marine science, and it would also encourage environmental stewardship.
In a statement, Salazar shared that “as someone who knows and recognizes the importance of the marine and aquatic environment, it is critical to provide younger generations of Americans across the country, especially minority Americans, the opportunity to learn firsthand about our seas, oceans, lakes, and outdoors, as well as provide them with the tools to enjoy them.”
Kamlager-Dove highlighted that “our nation is home to beautiful rivers, oceans, and lakes.” She added that the legislation is fitting given that World Oceans Day is coming up, and the effort is also done in honor of Virginia Rep. Donald McEachin (D) in an effort “to educate our youth on different marine environments, as well as vital conservation measures we must take to combat the climate crisis.”
Moreover, “it is especially important that historically disadvantaged youth have opportunities to learn about aquatic life and marine sciences to harbor their curiosity in these fields.”
The legislation has also received support in the Senate as Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker (R) and Washington Senator Maria Cantwell (D) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.