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Minimum Size Restrictions Are a Problem for Fisheries, Is Litigation the Solution?

June 2018

Citation: 48 ELR 10457

Issue: 6

Author: Judah Lieblich

Fisheries are tightly regulated under the broad Magnuson-Stevens Act, yet fish stocks widely remain either stagnant or in decline. Current management tools are failing to ensure that fish populations maintain the reproductive capacity needed to recover. One of the oldest and most widely used tools is minimum size restrictions. In the United States, the removal of minimum size restrictions would potentially be attractive to a wide variety of stakeholders, including commercial fishers, recreational fishers, and environmentalists, all of whom seek the sustainable management of fishery resources. Nevertheless, minimum size restrictions remain one of the most widely used tools in fisheries management in the United States. The scientific momentum pushing for the removal of minimum size restrictions, international precedent for successful alternatives to minimum size restrictions, and potential stakeholder support, all provide motivation to remove minimum size restrictions in the United States. This Comment will analyze how litigation can provide the means to do so.

Judah Lieblich is a former Australian lawyer who has practiced in litigation and environmental law, and current J.D. student at Florida State University College of Law.

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