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Massachusetts Lobstermen's Ass'n v. Ross

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20008
Nos. 18-5353, (D.C. Cir., 12/27/2019)

The D.C. Circuit affirmed a district court decision that upheld President Barack Obama's 2016 proclamation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the New England coast. Commercial fishing associations argued the monument exceeded the president's authority under the Antiquities Act because it lies entirely in the ocean and thus is not considered "land" under the Act. The district court concluded that the president acted within his statutory authority because the Act reached submerged land. On appeal, the appellate court agreed, finding that the Supreme Court has consistently held that the Act reaches submerged lands and the waters associated with them. The associations also argued that the monument was invalid because the federal government does not control the area of ocean where it is located, and that if the Act reaches the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) then it also reaches state and private lands that are clearly meant to be excluded. But the appellate court disagreed, finding that the government possesses unrivaled authority over the EEZ under both international and domestic law, thus establishing that it controlled the EEZ for purposes of the Act, and that the government controlled the EEZ, in part, because no other entity—public or private—exerted competing influence there. It therefore affirmed the district court's dismissal.