Court Ruling Favors U.S. Government In Fishing Monitor Dispute

A federal appeals court has found in favor of the U.S. government in a challenge brought by a New England fishermen's group over the cost of at-sea monitoring.

The monitors are workers who collect data that help the government craft fishing regulations. The government shifted the cost of paying for monitors to fishermen last year.

A group led by New Hampshire fisherman David Goethel sued the government over the rule change. The fishermen lost in federal district court and appealed. A 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Boston agreed with the lower court on Friday that the group didn't file its lawsuit within a 30-day statute of limitations.

Monitors can cost hundreds of dollars per day. Fishermen argue it represents an illegal new cost burden they can't shoulder in an era of tight quotas.

The rules apply to fishermen of species such as cod and sole.

Two of the three appeals court judges said, however, further clarification from Congress would be helpful for fisheries and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as it balances the competing goals of conservation and the economic vitality of the fishery.

The group is considering all of its legal options for judicial review, its attorney Julie Smith said.

"We also encourage Congress and the Administration to act swiftly to ensure that these unlawful regulatory costs do not put an end to the tradition of generations of proud fishermen in New England," she said.



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