Thursday, March 15, 2012

Turtle Island Restoration Network v. Department of Commerce

Mar 14: In the U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, Case No. 11-15783. Appealed from the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii. The Appeals Court explains that the Hawaii Longline Association appeals the approval of a consent decree entered into by plaintiff environmental groups and defendant Federal agencies affecting the regulation and management of the Hawaii shallow-set, swordfish longline fishery.

    Appellant challenges the district court's vacatur, under the terms of the consent decree, of a regulation increasing the limit on incidental interactions between longline fishing boats and loggerhead turtles and replacing the increased limit with a lower limit that was previously in effect. Appellant argues that the district court abused its discretion in approving a consent decree that violates Federal law by allowing the National Marine Fisheries Service to change duly promulgated rules without following the procedural rulemaking requirements of the Magnuson-Stevens Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

    The Appeals Court affirmed the district court's vacatur. The Appeals Court concluded, "Because the Consent Decree is injunctive in nature, this court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1292(a)(1). The Consent Decree does not purport to make substantive changes to the Fishery regulations, so the rulemaking provisions of the Magnuson Act and the APA do not apply. The district court did not clearly err in finding that a return to lower incidental take limits is more protective of loggerhead turtles."
    Access the complete opinion (click here). [#Wildlife, #CA9]
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