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Oceana, Inc. v. Ross

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20230
Nos. 08-1881 (PLF), (D.D.C., 10/01/2020) (Friedman, J.)

A district court remanded to NMFS for a third time in a decades-long lawsuit concerning the Service's incidental take statement (ITS) assessing the impact of dredge fishing on loggerhead sea turtles in the Atlantic. A conservation group argued that the Service's revised ITS responding to the court's previous order remained defective, and thus that NMFS had failed to demonstrate its monitoring methods were not arbitrary and capricious. The court found the Service had failed to explain how its proposed monitoring surrogate of dredge hours was an adequate proxy for the numerical take limit established in the ITS, and failed to improve on its explanation for the specific dredge hour limit that it set as a benchmark. It therefore remanded to NMFS for a third time to either more clearly explain whether there was a correlation between the dredge hour surrogate and the numerical take limit, and the selection of its limit, or, if unable to do so, to select a more appropriate surrogate or other mechanism for monitoring loggerhead takes resulting from dredge fishing.