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WASHINGTON TROLLERS ASSN. v. KREPS

February 26, 1979

WASHINGTON TROLLERS ASSOCIATION et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Juanita KREPS, Secretary of Commerce, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SCHWARZER

ORDER ON CROSS-MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

This case comes before the Court on cross-motions for partial summary judgment on the issue of the validity of regulations promulgated to implement the 1978 Pacific Salmon Fishery Management Plan. Plaintiffs are commercial salmon trollers and organizations representing trollers. In this action they seek to set aside regulations governing ocean salmon fishing off the coasts of Washington and Oregon.

 The regulations under attack were issued by the Secretary of Commerce pursuant to the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976. (16 U.S.C. §§ 1801 Et seq.) The Act provides for establishment of eight regional councils, including the Pacific Fishery Management Council which was established soon after adoption of the Act. In December 1976 this council prepared a draft of a Pacific Salmon Fishery Management Plan for 1977. The Plan was approved in the spring of 1977 by the Secretary who then issued regulations implementing it on an emergency basis.

 Preparation of the 1978 Salmon Fishery Management Plan began soon after the 1977 Plan went into effect in July, 1977. A draft, together with an environmental impact statement, was circulated extensively, and public hearings were held on it in six locations in the affected states during the fall of 1977. The Plan was revised on the basis of the public comments and transmitted to the Secretary for approval in January, 1978. It was approved on March 2, 1978, and regulations to implement it were put into effect on an emergency basis. Both the 1977 and 1978 regulations called, among other things, for minimum fish length and fishing gear restrictions and for closure of ocean salmon fishing to commercial trollers in northern waters from June 15 to June 30. The major change in the 1978 regulations was the relocation of the southern boundary of the management area from Tillamook Head to Cape Falcon, 11 miles further south on the Oregon coast. Because of the controversy over movement of the boundary, the Secretary established an additional public comment period. A panel of experts reviewed the Tillamook Head Cape Falcon controversy and recommended adoption of the Cape Falcon line. The final regulations became effective on July 11, 1978.

 Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint challenging the 1978 Plan on April 19, 1978. A second amended complaint was filed on June 19, 1978. Plaintiffs' current motion for partial summary judgment seeks declaratory relief against the 1978 Plan and regulations on the ground that the Plan does not conform to the requirements of the Act and that the regulations promulgated to implement it are invalid. The cross motion of defendant seeks to establish the validity of the 1978 Plan and regulations. *fn1"

 The Legislative Scheme

 The Act adopts a somewhat convoluted scheme to achieve its purposes of conservation and management of fishery resources. Each regional fishery management council is required to prepare and submit to the Secretary a fishery management plan with respect to the geographical area for which it is responsible. (s 1852(h)) The plan must contain certain information and assessments, and may in addition contain other provisions and recommendations. (s 1853) The Secretary must review each plan to determine whether it is consistent with the national standards under the Act and with other applicable provisions of law. (s 1854) If the Secretary approves it, the plan must be published, along with any proposed regulations, for comment by interested persons. Following the comment period, and after consideration of all relevant matters presented and a finding that the plan is consistent with the national standards and other provisions of law, the Secretary may promulgate regulations to implement it. (s 1855(a)-(c)).

 Scope of Review

 The Act contains the following provision for judicial review:

 
Judicial review. Regulations promulgated by the Secretary under this chapter shall be subject to judicial review to the extent authorized by, and in accordance with, chapter 7 of Title 5, if a petition for such review is filed within 30 days after the date on which the regulations are promulgated; except that (1) section 705 of such title is not applicable, and (2) the appropriate court shall only set aside any such regulation on a ground specified in section 706(2)(A), (B), (C), or (D) of such title. (s 1855(d))

 Under the scheme created by the Act, approval of the plan itself does not adversely affect anyone nor can it be considered final agency action for which there is no other adequate remedy in court. Any adverse effect results only from the regulations adopted to promulgate the plan and the Act provides an adequate remedy through judicial review of the regulations. Under the Administrative Procedure Act, therefore, plan approval standing alone would not be reviewable. (5 U.S.C. §§ 702, 704)

 The Act appears to contemplate, however, that regulations to implement a fishery management plan may be promulgated only after the Secretary has found the plan to be consistent with the national standards under the Act and other applicable provisions of law. (§§ 1854(a) & (b), 1855(c)) Thus, the existence of a plan conforming to the ...


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