THE SAFE AND HEALTHY OUTDOOR RECREATION ACT (SB 105) WAS INTRODUCED WITH BIPARTISAN SUPPORT
BIRMINGHAM – Last week, Senator Linda Coleman-Madison (D-20) introduced SB 105, the Safe and Healthy Outdoor Recreation Act (The SHOR Act), which will ensure outdoor recreationists, or paddlers, swimmers, and fishers across Alabama are better informed about fish consumption advisories in our rivers, streams, creeks, and bays. This bill has bipartisan support in the Alabama Senate.
Alabama’s coastal waters, rivers, lakes, and creeks provide endless opportunities for fun, food, and adventure. In order to enjoy Alabama’s abundant waterways safely and to protect the health of swimmers, paddlers, anglers, and anyone who depends on clean water, Alabamians need to know where fish are unsafe to eat and where other harmful pollutants are entering our waterways.
“Alabama’s rivers and streams are meant to be enjoyed and recreated on, but we must make sure Alabamians and visitors to our state know when and where to dip their toes and cast their lines,” Jack West, Alabama Rivers Alliance’s policy & advocacy director, said. “Nearly every river in Alabama has a fish consumption advisory and this bill will help inform and educate outdoor recreation enthusiasts to know where it is safe to consume fish – and where it isn’t.”
The SHOR Act will:
Require the installation of signage with pictures and names of fish with an active consumption advisory to be posted at every public boat ramp or fishing area (some coastal areas and rivers already have such signs in place through a partnership between the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and non-profit organizations)
Require those with water pollution permits to post signs on waterways where their legally permitted pollution is being discharged
Require the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources to communicate the consumption advisories through its current fishing license program
Create a Fish Consumption Advisory Panel to meet annually to continue to improve the program for the health and safety of all Alabamians
“Alabama’s state motto is ‘We Dare to Defend Our Rights’, yet currently, our anglers and their families don’t have the right to know which fish are safe to eat and where permitted pollution is being discharged,” Justinn Overton, Coosa Riverkeeper’s Executive Director and Riverkeeper, said. “We believe folks using Alabama’s waterways should have a right to know if the fish they bring home to their families are safe to eat or not, and families should have the right to know if the bay or lake they are swimming or paddling in has treated human waste or pollutants being discharged into it. We don’t want to tell people what to do or not to do; but we do want folks to be able to take the information the state has and make whatever decision is best for them and their families.”
The SHOR Act has been introduced and has been assigned to the Senate Healthcare Committee. To learn more and let your legislators know you support this bill, please click here.
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About the Alabama Rivers Alliance
Alabama Rivers Alliance is a statewide network of groups working to protect and restore all of Alabama’s water resources through building partnerships, empowering citizens, and advocating for sound water policy and its enforcement. For more information, please visit www.alabamarivers.org
About Conservation Alabama
Conservation Alabama builds the ability of Alabama’s citizens to promote conservation through government and civic action, providing the tools necessary for citizens to follow conservation issues in our state and communicate with elected officials about the issues most important to them.For more information, please visit www.conservationalabama.org
About Coosa Riverkeeper
Coosa Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect, restore, and promote the Coosa River and its tributaries. We are a citizen-based nonprofit organization working to improve water quality, protect valuable habitat, and promote recreation and public health along the Coosa River in Alabama. We patrol the waterways, educate the public, and advocate for the river. For more information, please visit www.coosariver.org.