United Cook Inlet Drift Ass'n. V. NMFS, No. 14-35928 (9th Cir. 2016)Annotate this Case
United Cook filed suit challenging Amendment 12, which removed three historic net fishing areas from the Salmon fishery management plan (FMP), and its implementing regulations as contrary to the Magnuson-Stevens Act's requirement that a Council prepare an FMP “for each fishery under its authority that requires conservation and management,” 16 U.S.C. 1852(h)(1). United Cook also alleged that Amendment 12 was arbitrary and capricious and contrary to the National Environmental Policy Act, 42 U.S.C. 4332(2)(C). At issue on appeal is whether NMFS can exempt a fishery under its authority that requires conservation and management from an FMP because the agency is content with State management. The court concluded that the Magnuson-Stevens Act unambiguously requires a Council to create an FMP for each fishery under its authority that requires conservation and management. The Act allows delegation to a state under an FMP, but does not excuse the obligation to adopt an FMP when a Council opts for state management. Therefore, the court concluded that Amendment 12 is contrary to law to the extent it removes Cook Inlet from the FMP. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded with instructions that judgment be entered in favor of United Cook.