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Pacific Choice Seafood Co. v. Ross

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20221
Nos. 18-15455, (9th Cir., 09/25/2020)

The Ninth Circuit affirmed summary judgment for NMFS in a challenge to the Service's rule imposing a quota system for a Pacific non-whiting groundwater fishery that limited the total allowable catch and prohibited any one entity from controlling more than 2.7% of the outstanding quota share. The fishery argued that NMFS misinterpreted the term "excessive share" under the Magnuson-Stevens Act by sidelining considerations of market power in favor of per-vessel profitability. The court found it was reasonable for the Service to conclude that other factors could dictate a lower maximum share that might be required by a singular focus on preventing excessive market power. The fishery also argued that NMFS acted arbitrarily and capriciously by failing to consider all relevant factors and relying on insufficient analysis in choosing the 2.7% limit. The court found that the record showed the Service considered market power and engaged in a reasoned process from which its path to the 2.7% limit could reasonably be discerned. It therefore affirmed summary judgment for the Service.