29 CFR § 784.103 - Adoption of the exemption in the original 1938 Act.
Although in the course of consideration of the legislation in Congress before passage in 1938, provisions to exempt employment in fisheries and aquatic products activities took various forms, section 13(a)(5), as drafted by the conference committee and finally approved, followed the language of an amendment adopted during consideration of the bill by the House of Representatives on May 24, 1938, which was proposed by Congressman Bland of Virginia. He had earlier on the same day, offered an amendment which had as its objective the exemption of the “fishery industry,” broadly defined. The amendment had been defeated (83 Cong. Rec. 7408), as had an amendment subsequently offered by Congressman Mott of Oregon (to a pending amendment proposed by Congressman Coffee of Nebraska) which would have provided an exemption for “industries engaged in producing, processing, distributing, or handling * * * fishery or seafood products which are seasonal or perishable” (83 Cong. Rec. 7421-7423). Against this background, when Congressman Bland offered his amendment which ultimately became section 13(a)(5) of the Act he took pains to explain: “This amendment is not the same. In the last amendment I was trying to define the fishery industry. I am now dealing with those persons who are exempt, and I call the attention of the Committee to the language with respect to the employment of persons in agriculture * * * I am only asking for the seafood and fishery industry that which has been done for agriculture.” It was after this explanation that the amendment was adopted (83 Cong. Rec. 7443). When the conference committee included in the final legislation this provision from the House bill, it omitted from the bill another House provision granting an hours exemption for employees “in any place of employment” where the employer was “engaged in the processing of or in canning fresh fish or fresh seafood” and the provision of the Senate bill providing an hours exemption for employees “employed in connection with” the canning or other packing of fish, etc. (see Mitchell v. Stinson, 217 F. 2d 210; McComb v. Consolidated Fisheries, 75 F. Supp. 798). The indication in this legislative history that the exemption in its final form was intended to depend upon the employment of the particular employee in the specified activities is in accord with the position of the Department of Labor and the weight of judicial authority.