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Public Statements

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. SOUTHERLAND. Mr. Chairman, the Southerland-Grimm amendment prohibits funds in the CJS Appropriations Act from being spent on limited access programs otherwise known as catch shares. Ladies and gentlemen, what I'm referring to here is nothing less than a battle to prevent freedom in our oceans. I want to make sure that I am very clear that our amendment only addresses the New England coast, the South Atlantic, the Mid-Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico. I also want to make sure that it is clear that this amendment only deals with new annual catch limits, not any old programs that are currently in place.

Catch shares are no different than any other inside-the-Beltway style tactic determined to destroy American freedom. By capping the amount of fish that may be caught annually----

Mr. DICKS. Will the gentleman yield?

Mr. SOUTHERLAND. I yield to the gentleman from Washington.

Mr. DICKS. I have been here since the Magnuson-Stevens Act was enacted. Catch shares are done by local councils of fishermen. It doesn't come out of Washington, D.C. Every region of the country has a regional group, and they determine what these catch shares should be. This is not an implemented program from Washington, D.C.

I mean, the gentleman at least owes it, at 5 minutes to 11, to give an accurate description of this amendment and this program, which is a program that many people, especially on the West Coast, by the way, think is a good program that's helping us protect the fishery.

Mr. SOUTHERLAND. Reclaiming my time, in an attempt to answer your question, while you were here since Magnuson-Stevens, my family was continuing 200 years of living on the coast in the Gulf of Mexico. So though I respect your time here, we were there experiencing the crushing impacts of what catch shares do.

Mr. DICKS. Isn't the local group down there in your area making the decision?

Mr. SOUTHERLAND. Reclaiming my time, I want to make it very clear that this amendment does not affect the West Coast.

Mr. DICKS. Oh, I know that. First the East Coast and then the West Coast.

Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Will the gentleman yield to me to help support his amendment? I am in support of the gentleman's amendment. Will the gentleman yield to me?

Mr. SOUTHERLAND. They are welcome to get their own time, Mr. Chair, so I would like to finish my statement.

The Acting CHAIR. The gentleman from Florida controls the time.

Mr. SOUTHERLAND. It is very clear that these catch shares in the bodies of water that I made reference to are an effort by a select group to take away the individual fishing rights of individual citizens and to implement a cap-and-trade system where fish are traded like a commodity. The only problem, the American people own this natural resource. This is not like a crop where a farmer has planted this in a field. And so I want to be very clear that this does not affect any existing programs. It just says that no dollars may be used for new--new--programs.

I would like to submit for the Record this extensive list of organizations and associations that represent tens of thousands of fishermen, commercial, boats for hire as well as individuals.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. SOUTHERLAND. You know, what's amazing is I always hear stuff that's not true. I was very clear. The letter that my colleague, Mr. Chairman, read, clearly stated that it would eliminate programs, catch share programs currently in bodies of water all around America; and that's just not true. That's not what it says.

My amendment is crystal clear. New catch shares in New England, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico--that's four bodies of water.

Now, I also want to make it very clear that every time that opponents or proponents of catch share stand up they want to talk about commercial fishermen. And I have commercial fishermen in my district, and I'm concerned about our commercial fishing industry.

But I'm also concerned about the individual freedoms and liberties of the American people, and the proponents of the catch share program never want to talk about the individual rights and freedoms of the American people.

This is a public resource, a natural resource. This is not just for a small select group of commercial fishermen that are backed by very, very wealthy environmentalists to decide alone.

This is an issue that is worthy for the American people to speak on. And this is the people's House. And so I stand here, yes, as a Member of the people's House, but I also stand here as someone who's lived on the Gulf of Mexico, as a family, for over 200 years. I know what I'm talking about.

And you just quoted something that was untrue, Mr. Chairman, and I have a problem with that. Geez.


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