1998 Scorecard Vote
Bycatch reduction devices (BRDs) are trapdoors in shrimp trawl nets that reduce the incidental catch of marine animals other than shrimp by allowing them to escape. The use of the devices is considered crucial to protecting biological resources in the Gulf of Mexico. For every pound of shrimp caught in the Gulf of Mexico without use of a BRD, more than four pounds of juvenile fish and other marine organisms are discarded to die. For example, more than 80% of the Gulf 's juvenile red snappers are caught and discarded each year by trawlers without BRDs.
Experience on commercial shrimp boats has demonstrated that BRDs can cut bycatch in half without significant shrimp loss. In the spring of 1998, in compliance with the newly reauthorized Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the National Marine Fisheries Service issued a regulation requiring BRDs for trawling in most federally managed waters in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rep. Sonny Callahan (R-AL) introduced H.R. 3735, a bill to nullify the BRD requirement in the Gulf. Later, Rep. Callahan attached a rider to the Fiscal Year 1999 Commerce, State, Justice appropriations bill, H.R. 4276, to extend state fisheries jurisdiction from three to nine miles from shore. This would, in effect, transfer management jurisdiction over a large section of the Gulf from the federal government to the states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. None of these states have BRD requirements in their waters, nor do they have the statutes, funding, or capabilities to properly manage large-scale fisheries.
On August 5, 1998, Rep. Callahan, with the support of Reps. Billy Tauzin (R-LA) and Bob Livingston (R-LA), made a motion to substitute new language for the existing rider. The new language would achieve the same purpose as the existing rider but without amending the Magnuson Act. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) argued against the substitute amendment because, under House procedures, he had to defeat it before being allowed to strike the original rider. On August 5, 1998, the House defeated Rep. Callahan's substitute amendment, 141 - 283. NO is the pro-environment vote. Rep. Callahan then accepted a motion by Rep. Gilchrest to strike the original rider on a voice vote.