Lobstermen With Case Against Biden Admin
With a judge ruling in its favor, a group of Maine lobstermen won a large legal victory Friday in their lawsuit against the Biden administration over regulations they claimed threatened to put their businesses out of business.
The ruling saw the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit judges Judge Douglas Ginsburg, case against the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and their Endangered Species Act (ESA).
"The Service’s legal reasoning was not just wrong; it was egregiously wrong," Judge Ginsburg said in an opinion issued Friday.
Under the NMFS rule, lobster fisheries would have had operating limits placed on them, with new technical standards reducing the number of traps that could be deployed by half. The regulation was put in place, the government said, with the intention of protecting the endangered North Atlantic right whale.
This, too, Judge Ginsburg challenged.
“Only a few years ago, the Service, revisiting its interpretive rules, agreed with commenters that 'nothing' in the ESA required it to use ‘a "worst-case scenario" or make unduly conservative modeling assumptions,’ and rejected comments arguing it should give the benefit of the doubt to a species by evaluating ‘effects or activities that were possible even if not likely,'" he argued.
Dustin Delano, chief operating officer of the New England Fishermen’s Stewardship Association, called the judge's ruling a "moral boost to the fishing industry that he says has been drowning in overreaching regulations."
He continued to say that the fishing community, like the lobstermen of Maine, have a "deep sensitivity to the marine environment" and that "regulators must confront the human cost of their skewed and unjustified approach," an approach that he believes has been taken by the NMFS for far too long.
The Maine Lobstermen's Association (MLA) originally sued the agency for the regulations. Deborah Dunlap, an attorney for the MLA, told the Associated Press that she was relieved by Friday's ruling.
"It's a really important day for Maine fishermen," Dunlap said in a statement. "The court recognized that the NMFS doesn't have carte blanche to ignore its own rules and the ESA in putting the interests of endangered species ahead of the interests of fishermen."
The lawyer for the NMFS, Rachel Kovner, said the agency is still reviewing the judges' decision and "will act accordingly," in regards to the ruling.
The North Atlantic right whale, the species said to be in danger by the NMFS rule, is still highly endangered, with less than 400 left in the ocean. The species faces danger from entanglements of fishing gear or collisions with boats, though there have been no reported cases in which the Maine lobstermen have seriously injured or killed any of the whales.
Meanwhile, Minister Delano expressed his relief in the ruling.
"Today’s decision is a rare and long-sought victory for lobstermen,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of having a "larger presence in Washington, D.C.," claiming that fishing associations need to come together to represent all fishermen across New England to have a louder voice.
"Enough's enough," he concluded.