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Oceana, Inc. v. Ross

ELR Citation: 49 ELR 20069
Nos. 17-5247, (D.C. Cir., 04/12/2019)

The D.C. Circuit affirmed summary judgment for NMFS in a challenge to the agency's adoption of the 2016 Standardized Bycatch Reporting Methodology for fisheries in the northeastern United States. An environmental group argued that the 2016 methodology violated the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) because it permitted the agency to depart from its observer allocation methodology whenever it decided to dedicate insufficient funds. But the court disagreed, finding that the methodology's accounting of available funds did not prevent it from being "established" under the MSA. The group also argued that NMFS' exclusion of nonfederally managed species from the prescribed process for determining coverage level prevented the methodology from being "standardized." But the court found that the agency's decision to consider only federally managed species when allocating at-sea observers reflected a permissible reading of the MSA. Lastly, the group argued that NMFS arbitrarily excluded the use of electronic monitoring based on an outdated and inaccurate understanding of the technology's capabilities and costs, but the court found that the agency sufficiently explained its reasoning for that choice. It therefore affirmed summary judgment for the agency.