Akin Gump Reps Oceana in Challenge to Fed Gov Decision Pulling Rule That Would Protect Endangered Marine Species

(Washington, D.C) – Akin Gump is representing, pro bono, nonprofit advocacy organization Oceana in the federal suit it filed this month challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS, also known as “NOAA Fisheries,” an office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Department of Commerce) decision to withdraw a proposed rule that would have protected endangered species, including whales and sea turtles. The rule would also have taken an important step forward in efforts to clean up what Oceana characterizes as one of the nation’s dirtiest fisheries—drift gillnets targeting swordfish off California.

NMFS had originally agreed with the federal Pacific Fishery Management Council’s (PFMC) approval of a rule requiring strict limits on the injury or death of a variety of species of whales, sea turtles and dolphins. The rule also sought to reduce bycatch of other valuable species and to switch to cleaner fishing methods. However, on June 12, the NMFS withdrew the proposed rule, noting that it “decided that the proposed changes discussed in the proposed rule are not warranted at this time.”

Oceana, Inc. v. Wilbur Ross claims that the Commerce Secretary, through the relevant agencies, violated the Administrative Procedure Act and the Magnuson-Stevens Act by withdrawing the PFMC’s proposed regulation “implementing hard caps on the bycatch of five marine mammal species and four sea turtle species,” and requests that the court declare the defendants in violation of either or both of the two cited pieces of legislation and order the Commerce Secretary to promulgate the PFMC’s regulation in accordance with law.

The Akin Gump team representing Oceana comprises Akin Gump environment and natural resources practice leader David Quigley, partner Stacey Mitchell, senior counsel Andrew Oelz, litigation counsel Stanley Woodward and summer associate Bryan Williamson.

To view a copy of the complaint, please click here. To learn more about Akin Gump’s pro bono work for Oceana, click here.

Founded in 1945, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

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