Fishermen file lawsuit against herring at-sea monitoring rule

Published on
June 9, 2020

The Cause of Action Institute has filed a motion for summary judgement on behalf of New Jersey, U.S.A., fisherman against a new set of regulations called the “Omnibus Amendment,” which requires some boats in the Atlantic herring fishery carry at-sea monitors at their own cost.

The new rule was designed by the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), and was recently finalized by NOAA and the Department of Commerce. The New Jersey fishermen, according to a release from the Cause of Action Institute, object to the at-sea monitor requirements, as it is expected to cost fishermen “upwards of USD 700 [EUR 619] a day.”

Named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Loper Bright Enterprises Inc., H&L Axelsson Inc., Cape Trawlers Inc., Scombrus One LLC., Golden Nugget LLC., Lund Marr Trawlers LLC., Mount Vernon LLC., and Nancy Elizabeth LLC.

“Despite years of adverse feedback from fishermen and other stakeholders concerning the absence of statutory authority for industry-funded monitoring in the Atlantic herring fishery (and in other fisheries) –and in the face of the predicted negative economic impact – defendants nevertheless pushed through the regulation at hand,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit claims that the rule is unlawful, and that the agencies in question don’t have the statutory authority to implement them. The press release announcing the lawsuit also referred to  U.S. President Donald Trump’s recent executive order, which included provisions intended to reduce regulatory burdens on fishermen.

“The federal government finalized this lawless regulation despite lacking any legal authority to require these family fishermen to pay for policing by government-contracted employees,” Ryan Mulvey, counsel for the Cause of Action Institute, said in a release. “The New England Council and NOAA disregarded their lack of congressional authorization and shirked the necessary statutory and procedural standards. We are hopeful the court will deem industry-funding unlawful and set aside the omnibus amendment — helping save one of our nation’s most-storied professions.”

Jeff Kaelin, director of sustainability and government relations for Lund’s Fisheries, said the new rule won’t help sustainability and will only serve to hurt fishermen.

“Herring fisherman have long worked with the councils to advance conservation and sustainability measures for the fishery,” he said. “But the omnibus amendment will not advance any of those goals. The over-regulation that plagues this industry has already driven vessels out of business. If boats are forced to take on the additional cost of at-sea monitors, the results for our businesses will be fatal for many, especially small, family-owned firms.”

Photo courtesy of Tanya Greene/Shutterstock 

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