US court rejects appeal of at-sea monitoring cost shift

A U.S. federal appeals court has ruled against a challenge to the government’s plan shift the cost of at-sea monitors to fishermen.

At-sea monitors are required for many fisheries – including cod and sole fisheries in New England – by current regulations, and last year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which oversees federal fisheries regulation, stopped paying for the costs of the monitors, who collect data in order to help the government craft fishing regulations.

A group led by David Goethel, a fisherman in New Hampshire, sued the government over the rule change but lost in federal district court. Goethel’s group argued that the shift represented an illegal cost burden they wouldn’t be able to absorb in an era of tight quotas.

The group’s appeal was heard by the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston, Massachusetts, which on Friday, 14 April dismissed the appeal on the grounds that the group didn't file its lawsuit within a 30-day statute of limitations, according to the Associated Press.

Goethel’s group is now considering its remaining options for challenging the cost shift.

"We also encourage Congress and the Administration to act swiftly to ensure that these unlawful regulatory costs do not put an end to the tradition of generations of proud fishermen in New England," Goethel’s attorney, Julie Smith, told the AP.

In their ruling, two of the three appeals court judges who heard the case said that further clarification from Congress would be helpful for fisheries and NOAA as the organization seeks to balance the competing goals of conservation and the economic output of the fishery.


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