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Federal Fisheries Management: A Quantitative Assessment of Federal Fisheries Litigation Since 1976

44 Pages Posted: 30 Dec 2016 Last revised: 7 Jan 2017

Robin Kundis Craig

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Catherine Danley

University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, Students

Date Written: December 28, 2016

Abstract

When Congress enacted the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act in 1976, it intended the Act to operate largely without the courts. Indeed, since the statute’s enactment, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the regional Fisheries Management Councils have published over 1700 regulatory actions in the Federal Register, but cases challenging fisheries management have been relatively limited.

Given how much fisheries management “flies under the courts’ radar,” so to speak, it is worth asking what kinds of cases do end up in the courts. This article presents an initial quantitative assessment of federal fisheries litigation since 1976 to begin to assess the role of the courts in federal fisheries management. It concludes first that the 1996 and 2006 amendments to the Magnuson-Stevens Act, each of which added enforceable ecological requirements, both increased the amount of environmentally-minded litigation brought under that statute. Nevertheless, contrary to many perceptions, fishermen always have been the Act’s primary litigants, arguably confounding Congress’s original intent for fisheries management.

Keywords: fisheries management, Magnuson-Stevens Act, Sustainable Fisheries Act, litigation

Suggested Citation

Craig, Robin Kundis and Danley, Catherine, Federal Fisheries Management: A Quantitative Assessment of Federal Fisheries Litigation Since 1976 (December 28, 2016). Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, 2017; University of Utah College of Law Research Paper No. 189. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2891056

Robin Kundis Craig (Contact Author)

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law ( email )

383 South University St.
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-0730
United States
801-585-5228 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://https://faculty.utah.edu/u0793211-ROBIN_KUNDIS_CRAIG/biography/index.hml

Catherine Danley

University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law, Students ( email )

332 South 1400 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112
United States

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