Tag Archives: Cause of Action Institute

Trump’s monument review is as secretive as Obama’s designations

Presidential use of the Antiquities Act is ripe for abuse, as major decisions impacting vast public lands, natural resources, property rights, livelihoods and private industry are left to the sole discretion of the president. After such a unilateral designation, the president does not need to substantiate his decision in any meaningful way, beyond the use of a few magic words on the face of the proclamation. It seemed like a positive step when President Trump in April issued an executive order seeking public input for a review of national monument designations over the last two decades. But it now appears that any hope for additional transparency may have been premature. click here to read the story 19:25

A fisherman’s tale of fighting Uncle Sam

We’re probably going well off the beaten path on this one, but I wanted to draw your attention to a lawsuit which has been percolating in the system since 2015 and may be coming to the Supreme Court later this year. It involves a small volume fisherman who is fighting back against onerous regulations from the Department of Commerce which are threatening to put him (and so many other family operations) out of business. David Goethel is in the fight of his life because new government regulations are costing him more per day than he can generally earn in profit from his fishing operation. Cause of Action Institute (CoAI) is working on this case and provides the details. click here to read the story 11:45

NOAA Officials May Be Illegally Deleting Skype and Google Chat conversations

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) might illegally be destroying records of a recent meeting discussing new regulations against the fishing industry, according to a conservative legal group in Washington, D.C. Cause of Action Institute (CoA) filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the NOAA to obtain communications during a New England Fishery Management Council meeting hashing out new rules foisted upon the country’s fishing industry. The group believes the agency is deleting Skype and Google Chat conversations that took place during the April meeting. The NOAA General Counsel considers communications through Google Chat to be off the record and will not be recorded anyway, according to a 2012 handbook guide CoA obtained. CoA disputed the agency’s claim, and pointed to provisions within the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The NARA, which maintains government records, states that any communications created on NOAA’s Gmail interface qualify under the Federal Records Act. CoA Institute requested e-mails, instant messaging, Google chat messages, text messages, and any Skype messages NOAA employees sent during the April 18–20, 2017 NEFMC meetings. click here to read the story 16:32

Fisherman, lawyers mull new at-sea monitoring suit

They lost in U.S. District Court in New Hampshire last summer and failed to have that decision overturned in federal appeals court in Boston this spring. Still, New Hampshire groundfisherman David Goethel and his legal team may not be done in their legal challenge of the federal government’s ability to shift the costs of at-sea monitoring to groundfishermen. “We’re still assessing all of our legal options at this point,” said Julie Smith, one of the lawyers from Washington D.C.-based Cause of Action Institute that has represented Goethel and Northeast Fishing Sector 13 in the initial federal lawsuit and appeal. Smith declined to be more specific, but clearly the options are limited: Goethel and his lawyers could swing for the fences and petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case, hoping it would overturn the April decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals upholding the judgment in the original lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Concord, New Hampshire. click here to read the story 08:57

U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Decision on Reg That Will Put 60 Percent of New England Ground Fishermen Out of Business

On Friday, the U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the District Court’s ruling last summer that a lawsuit filed by Cause of Action Institute (CoA Institute) on behalf of Plaintiffs David Goethel and Northeast Fishery Sector 13 against the U.S. Department of Commerce should be dismissed. In its opinion, the Court found that the fishermen’s suit was untimely and therefore did not consider the Plaintiff’s legal arguments that requiring fishermen to pay for monitors is against the law.  However, in a rare move, the judges highlighted the devastating economic impacts of the regulation in question, and urged Congress to clarify the law and who should pay for the at-sea monitors. “I am disappointed by the decision,” Goethel said. “But I’m hopeful that Congress will heed the Court’s direction and clarify the law. It is the government’s obligation to pay for these at-sea monitors.,, Northeast Fishery Sector 13 Manager John Haran said, “I’m disappointed that timeliness of the case was the Court’s deciding factor and not the merits of our arguments. The fishermen in my sector can’t sustain this industry funding requirement and many will be put out of business if this mandate remains in place.” click here to read the story 14:37

Withdraw Unlawful Plan Forcing Fishermen to Pay for At-Sea Monitors – Cause of Action Institute

Cause of Action Institute (“CoA Institute”)  has submitted a regulatory comment to the New England Fishery Management Council (“NEFMC”) questioning the Council’s legal authority to move forward a controversial amendment that would force more fishermen to pay for costly at-sea monitors, which are the government’s responsibility.  CoA Institute advised the NEFMC to abandon the Omnibus Amendment, which would imperil an already hard-hit fishing industry by requiring certain fishermen to pay for monitors to police their at-sea activity.  The plan would also open more regional Atlantic fisheries to industry-funded monitors. “The Omnibus Amendment is unlawful and will make it virtually impossible for countless small-business fishermen to pursue their livelihood,” said Julie Smith, CoA Institute Vice President. “Many of these fishermen come from families that have fished American coastal waters for generations.  The federal government should not regulate them out of business. Congress has not authorized it and the economic consequences are too dire. If an agency lacks statutory authority or appropriated funds, it has no power to act. The New England Council should withdraw the Omnibus Amendment.” The cost for a monitor under the amendment is expected to range from $710 to $818 per day at sea.  That would exceed the revenue a fisherman typically lands from his daily catch. CoA Institute represents fishermen challenging another industry-funded monitoring program in the Northeast groundfish fishery.  In that case, a government study predicted that industry-funded monitoring would result in up to 60 percent of mostly small-scale vessels going out of business—a result that the government blithely characterized as a “restructuring” of the groundfish fleet.  Learn more about the case HERE 14:00

This Fisherman Is Battling the Government to Save His Livelihood

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East Coast fishermen file appeal over cost of government-required ‘at-sea monitors’

fisheries observerThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, requires groundfishermen — those who catch cod, haddock and other common bottom-dwelling species — to carry on board “at-sea monitors.” The observers, hired by three for-profit companies, are third-party workers whose task it is to observe fishermen’s compliance with federal regulations and ensure annual quotas are not exceeded.  The dispute lies in the cost of the monitors and who should pay for them: Fishermen are billed on average $700 a day when a regulator is present. NOAA, meanwhile, says monitors were placed on fishing boats like Goethel’s only 14 percent of the time in 2016 — and claims the fishing industry supported this system of regulation in 2010 when a vote went before the New England Fishery Management Council, an advisory board to NOAA that sets the rules. “At sea monitors were originally supported by the sectors when we went from a days-at-sea form of management to a quota based form of management in 2010,” said John Bullard, the regional administrator for NOAA’s Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office.  Read the story here 14:22

Cause of Action Institute sues NOAA For New England Fishery Management Council information on member selection

cause_of_action_transparent_273_x_259In its July 13 FOIA request, Cause of Action sought information on how the Secretary of Commerce and NOAA select members in the New England Fishery Management Council, which regulates fishing off the coasts of Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut. “The records at issue in this case, which include records of communication between high-ranking agency officials, will permit the public to understand how the most recent round of membership selection for the NEFMC was handled, and whether that process was at all tinged by political considerations or other untoward government action,” the complaint states. Cause of Action claims that NOAA has never disclosed information about how it selects members of the eight regional regulatory councils operating under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and that the membership might not accurately represent the fishing industry. Read the rest here 10:44

Court Rules Against Local Fishermen, Upholds Job-Killing Government Mandate

Today, the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire dismissed the lawsuit filed by Plaintiffs David Goethel and Northeast Fishery Sector 13 against the U.S. Department of Commerce. In December 2015, the Department of Commerce ordered that fishermen who fish for cod, flounder and certain other fish in the Northeast United States not only must carry National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (“NOAA”) enforcement contractors known as “at-sea monitors” on their vessels during fishing trips, but must pay out-of-pocket for the cost of those monitors.  This “industry funding” requirement would devastate the Northeast fishing industry, at the price of many jobs and livelihoods.  The District Court’s order allows that requirement to remain in place. The Court found that the fishermen’s suit was untimely and that the requirement that monitors be funded by the fishermen was authorized by law. “I am very disappointed by this decision,” said Goethel.  “I’ve made a living fishing in New England for more than 30 years, but I can’t afford to fish if I have to pay for at-sea monitors.  I’m grateful to Cause of Action Institute for joining the fight, and I hope that the rule of law will win in the end.” “The fishermen in my sector can’t sustain this industry funding requirement,” said Northeast Fishery Sector 13 Manager John Haran. “They’ll have to try other fisheries, if they can keep fishing at all.” “While we respect the District Court and its decision, it appears that decision is contrary to the law and facts,” said Alfred J. Lechner, Jr., President and CEO of Cause of Action Institute and a former federal judge.  “In the end, the federal government is overextending its regulatory power and is destroying an industry. We intend to study the decision and consider further action.” link 18:55

East Coast fishermen spar with federal government over cost of at-sea monitors

1468439091793Every year, the federal government spends millions monitoring New England commercial fishermen to ensure they ply their timeless maritime trade in accordance with the law. Now, a judge is set to rule on who should foot the bill for the on-board monitors: the government or the fishing boat owners. The East Coast fishermen say sticking them with the bill would be the “death knell” for their  industry and is illegal on the part of the federal government. Fishermen of important New England food species such as cod and haddock will have to start paying the cost of at-sea monitors soon under new rules. Monitors — third-party workers hired to observe fishermen’s compliance with federal regulations — collect data to help determine future fishing quotas and can cost about $18,000 a year, or $710 per voyage. “It is unlawful for NOAA to force struggling fishermen to pay for their own at-sea monitors,” said former federal judge Alfred Lechner, the institute’s president and CEO. “The significant costs of these regulations should be the responsibility of the government.” Read the rest here 08:57