404 Atlantic coastal fisheries amendments.
[ACFCMA sections 803, 804, 809, and 810]
Summary: Section (a) modifies the definition of "coastal fishery
management plan" in the Atlantic Coastal Fisheries Cooperative
Management Act by removing the third requirement ("recommends
actions to be taken by the Secretary in the exclusive economic
zone to conserve and manage the fishery"). Section (b) modifies
the Secretary's authority to implement regulations in the EEZ:
the old language was "necessary to support the effective
implementation" of a coastal fishery management plan; the new
language is "compatible with" a coastal plan. Section (c) allows
persons with valid Maine licenses to fish for American lobster in
certain areas of the EEZ known as "Maine pockets."
Legislative history: The modification to the definition is the
result of the weakfish litigation where the court ruled that all
three prongs of the definition are prerequisites to a valid plan.
The judge invalidated the Federal regulations, finding that there
was no valid coastal plan since the plan did not contain explicit
recommendations to the Secretary.
Section (b)'s modification to the Secretary's authority provides
an easier standard to meet and thus would make a challenge to
Federal regulations easier to defend; the modification presumably
was initiated by supporters of the Atlantic Coastal Act in
anticipation of future judicial review of Federal regulations.
Section (c) allows some Maine fishermen who supposedly hadn't
realized they were fishing in areas of the EEZ to continue
fishing in these "pockets" without Federal permits, as long as
they obey all other applicable Federal and state regulations.
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