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Flaherty v. Raimondo

ELR Citation: 51 ELR 20052
Nos. 11-660 (TJK), (D.D.C., 03/26/2021) (Kelly, J.)

A district court denied an environmental group's motion for summary judgment in a challenge to NMFS' approval of an amendment to a fishery management plan (FMP) for an Atlantic herring fishery. The group argued NMFS violated the Magnuson-Stevens Act (MSA) by failing to designate river herring, which fishery vessels ensnare as bycatch when fishing for Atlantic herring, as "stocks" in the FMP's description of the fishery when it approved the amendment. The court found that the MSA was silent as to the reassessment of an FMP's description of a fishery in subsequent FMP amendments and thus did not impose a duty on the Service to revisit the fishery's description when it approved the amendment at issue. The group also argued NMFS violated NEPA because the amendment's EIS failed to take a "hard look" at the description of the fishery and consider all reasonable alternatives to address river herring bycatch. Likewise, the court found that NEPA did not require the EIS to take a hard look at or consider alternatives to the separate issue of the FMP's description of the fishery when approving the amendment at issue. It therefore denied the group's motion for summary judgment and granted summary judgment for NMFS.