Bill that would ban SCUBA divers from feeding sharks in U.S. waters introduced in Congress

Some SCUBA diving operators use bait or chum to attract sharks so that their customers can get an up close and personal encounter. A new bill that would make this practice illegal in all U.S. waters has just been introduced into Congress. Section 3 of S. 3099, the “Access for Sportfishing Act of 2016,” contains the following provision:

“it is unlawful for any person—

“(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.”

Supporters of shark feeding say that letting divers interact with sharks this closely helps dispel myths and misunderstandings, and that attracting sharks with bait is the only way to ensure that divers will get to see them. Critics fear that shark feeding can result in changing sharks’ natural behaviors and learning to associate humans with food.

Feeding sharks is already banned in the state waters of some U.S. states, including FloridaSome dive operators in Florida have gotten around this ban by taking their customers out of Florida waters and into adjacent Federal waters, which would no longer be legal if this new bill becomes law. It is currently unclear how this bill will affect American citizens and/or American owned companies engaging in shark feeding outside of U.S. waters.

You can track the progress of this bill here.


  1. Mike Walsh · July 16, 2016

    I do not see anything wrong with feeding sharks !! They are wild animals ,& if you have respect that I see nothing wrong .How about going to a zoo where wild animals are caged for there live time is that wrong ?????

    • Carlos · July 21, 2016

      Feeding wild animals makes them associate humans with food. Divers feeding sharks in South Africa has been linked to shark attacks in Australia. We have the same issue with alligators in Florida. They naturally fear humans (due to our ancestors hunting them) but lose that fear when fed. Trust me, you don’t want to be hanging around when a massive predator comes looking for a handout. Wildlife should be observed but not interfered with.

  2. carlp (@carlptweet) · July 25, 2016

    I love sharks and getting swim with a lot of them was one of the things that brought me around. And how come using food in hunting and killing of sharks is allowed, and using food to admire them is not? That is perverse!
    Observers should be allowed to do what they want. Hunters should be banned!

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