February 19, 2021

Federal court sides with fishermen and their livelihoods in swordfishing dispute

Washington, D.C.; February 19, 2021: A federal judge has vacated a National Marine Fisheries Service rule that threatened the livelihoods of fishermen on the West Coast. The rule implemented “hard caps” that would end the fishing season if even two animals of certain species were inadvertently caught, despite existing mitigation measures that have proven successful in protecting marine life.

“The court casts its line in favor of the fishermen,” Judge Trevor N. McFadden wrote, finding that the Service’s rule violated the Magnuson–Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, which requires conservation and management measures to minimize costs to fishermen.

Pacific Legal Foundation filed a lawsuit last year challenging the federal rule on behalf of fishermen.

“The decision is welcome news for the fishermen who rely on swordfishing for their livelihoods,” said Damien Schiff, a senior attorney at PLF. “The court concluded that there was significant evidence that the rule would devastate the swordfishing industry, and little evidence that the rule’s restrictions would produce a measurable environmental benefit.”

Pacific Legal Foundation is also challenging a California law that would put swordfishermen out of work. Litigation in that case is ongoing.

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About Pacific Legal Foundation

Pacific Legal Foundation is a national nonprofit legal organization that defends Americans threatened by government overreach and abuse. Since our founding in 1973, we challenge the government when it violates individual liberty and constitutional rights. With active cases in 39 states plus Washington, D.C., PLF represents clients in state and federal courts, with 12 victories out of 14 cases heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

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