New Civil Liberties Alliance Urges Supreme Court to Review Controversial Vessel Monitoring Rule
The New Civil Liberties Alliance has filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the recent Vessel Monitoring decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The decision, announced on March 16, 2023, upheld the requirement for vessels fishing for herring to have onboard monitors during certain fishing trips. An Act […]

by | Jul 11, 2023

The New Civil Liberties Alliance has filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to review the recent Vessel Monitoring decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The decision, announced on March 16, 2023, upheld the requirement for vessels fishing for herring to have onboard monitors during certain fishing trips.

An Act of Conservation

Under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA), Atlantic herring fishing is regulated to prevent overfishing and promote conservation. In 2020, a rule was implemented requiring fishermen to pay for human at-sea monitors on their vessels.

Fishing Vessels like this one will be required to have onboard Vessel Monitoring during certain fishing trips

Controversy Surrounding Vessel Monitors

The main issue at hand is the responsibility of vessel owners to pay for these monitors. While the government certifies the monitors, it does not always cover their costs. Instead, the vessel owners are required to contract with private entities to procure and pay for the monitors. The plaintiffs argue that the MSA does not authorize such a rule.

Justification for Vessel Monitoring Rule

The Court of Appeals justified the rule by applying the Chevron Rule, a two-step analysis. First, it determines if Congress has spoken directly on the issue. If not, the second step is to determine if the agency’s action is a permissible interpretation of the statute. The Court found that the agency’s action was permissible and that vessel owners are responsible for bearing the costs of the monitors.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance hopes that the Supreme Court will grant certification to review this matter and potentially overturn the decision.

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