Pacific Coast Federation v. Blank

693 F.3d 1084 (2012)

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Pacific Coast Federation v. Blank

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
693 F.3d 1084 (2012)

Facts

The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), enacted by Congress and reauthorized in 2007, created eight regional fishery councils to regulate fishing in designated national regions. The aim of the system of regional councils was to prevent the ongoing depletion of fishing stocks. The councils operated by allocating fishing rights in a circumscribed way to regulate the overall amount of fishing in each region. In the 2007 reauthorization, the MSA established a system of privileges that were allocated to fishery participants, allowing them to harvest a certain portion of the total catch for particular species. The MSA set requirements for how the allocations of fishing privileges were to be determined, including protections for fishing communities. In 2011, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), the federal agency responsible for ocean resources, and the Pacific Fishery Management Council (the Pacific Council), one of the regional fishing councils, adopted amendments to the fishery management plan for the Pacific Coast region. The amendments fixed the fishing allocations for a range of fish stocks in the region, with the initial allocation based on catch history. The amendments also provided measures to reduce adverse impacts to fishing communities. Prior to deciding on the allocations, the NMFS surveyed the state of fishing communities, noted the effects of the quota programs on these communities, and accounted for the participation of these communities in the Pacific Council’s decision. The NMFS also adopted measures to mitigate adverse effects of the quota system on the communities. The Pacific Coast Federation (plaintiff) sued the secretary of the NMFS (defendant) on the grounds that the allocations assigned by the Pacific Council failed to meet the requirements of the MSA. The district court granted summary judgment to the NMFS secretary, and the Pacific Coast Federation appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Callahan, J.)

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