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Coastside Fishing Club v. California Fish & Game Comm'n

ELR Citation: 43 ELR 20085
Nos. D061121, (Cal. App. 4th Dist., 04/15/2013)

A California appellate court upheld the denial of a fishing club's petition for a writ of mandate directing the California Fish and Game Commission to vacate its regulations that create Marine Protected Areas and Marine Managed Areas in state waters of an area of the Pacific Ocean known as the North Central Coast study region. The lower court erred in applying the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies. Because the APA expressly provides the judicial remedy of declaratory relief to challenge the validity of a regulation and does not expressly require that such challenges be first raised during the pre-adoption public comment period, bringing a challenge to the validity of a proposed regulation during the public comment period is not a prerequisite to a judicial action. Accordingly, the club is entitled to a judicial resolution of the matter despite its failure to raise its challenge to the validity of the regulations through the public comment procedure provided by the APA. Nevertheless, the lower court correctly ruled that the Commission acted within its statutory authority in adopting the regulations. The Commission's failure to comply with the Coordinating Committee requirement of Cal. Pub. Resource Code §36800 did not render the regulations void.