Washington, D.C. –

  Florida Congressmen Carlos Curbelo (R), and Alcee Hastings (D) reintroduced their bipartisan "Finding Innovative Lionfish Elimination Technologies (FILET) Act of 2017," legislation that would award competitive grants to universities and nonprofit research organizations focused on eliminating this invasive species.

  "For decades, coastal communities along the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico have faced a growing ecological and economic threat from Lionfish," Curbelo said. "As private entities continue to research new and innovative ways to combat this invasive species, government should allocate resources to address this major risk to South Florida's marine fisheries, habitats, and eco-systems."

  "The invasive Lionfish has wreaked havoc throughout the oceans along the Southeastern United States," said Hastings. "Damage to reefs and marine life has detrimental effects on the economies of these areas. This bipartisan legislation will spur innovation  and the development of technologies to help eradicate this invasive species, protecting both the ecosystems and economic livelihoods of the communities affected. I thank Congressman Curbelo for his leadership in this area and for reintroducing this legislation with me."

  Curbelo and Hastings had previously introduced the FILET Act in the 114th Congress. This new version introduced yesterday expands eligible grant recipients to include nonprofit research organizations, as well as universities, and gives the Secretary of Commerce authority to encourage collaborations among stakeholder groups that have practical experience with gear, harvest techniques, and knowledge of local ecosystems.

  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 spawn 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 continue to grow, resulting in detrimental consequences to the health of our coral reefs.

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