This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC) prohibiting federal funds from being used to carry out “catch shares programs” (in which fisherman purchase a fishing permit, and only those who buy this permit are allowed to catch a portion of fish). This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
Catch shares programs are administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the federal agency that monitors the conditions of the atmosphere and oceans. The NOAA implemented these programs in order to prevent overfishing.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) urged support for this amendment: “…The fishing industry is a crucial part of our nation's economy, and catch shares pose a serious threat to the vitality of the fishing industry. Catch shares is a system where fishermen have to buy the right to fish, and only those who buy this right are given the opportunity to catch a portion of fish. I don't believe any fisherman should have to buy the right to go fishing….”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) opposed the amendment: “…These programs put together by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are designed to replenish diminishing fish stocks. They assign shares to individuals, cooperatives, other fishing communities, because what we have seen that has resulted in depleted fish stocks and overfishing is a race to fish where the concern is that the stock is being depleted. And so they run out to get what's left….Now, I can understand there are many fishing communities that don't want NOAA's intervention. But NOAA has been successful in ensuring sustainable fisheries and preventing overfishing and creating more stable and lucrative fishing jobs in communities from Alaska to Florida. And they bring a lot of economic and biological benefits. They eliminate what many think are dangerous races to fish, or what are called `derby' conditions, and they improve safety for fishermen.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 259-159. Voting “yea” were 208 Republicans and 51 Democrats. 131 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 28 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment prohibiting funds provided by a continuing resolution from being used to administer catch shares programs.