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Alliance Against IFQs v. Brown

    Citation84 F.3d 343
    84 F.3d 343

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Defendant created a regulatory scheme that allocated a quota share to each owner or lessee of a vessel that caught those particular types of fish. Plaintiffs who are fishermen who did not own or lease boats, and boat owners who had not fished prior to the cutoff period sued the defendant.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    If a regulatory agency has a rational basis for making an allocation, a regulatory scheme that inequitably allocates quotas to regulated parties is not arbitrary or capricious.

    Facts.

    Defendant authorized the commerce secretary to create regulations that limited access to the fishery when commercial ocean fishing in Alaskan waters resulted in overfishing of sablefish and halibut. Defendant created a regulatory scheme that allocated a quota share to each owner or lessee of a vessel that caught those particular types of fish. Prioritization of boat owners and lessees over fishermen were based on the difficulties of calculating shares and investments made. Plaintiffs who are fishermen who did not own or lease boats, and boat owners who had not fished prior to the cutoff period sued the defendant. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant.

    Issue.

    If a regulatory agency has a rational basis for making an allocation, is a regulatory scheme that inequitably allocates quotas to regulated parties arbitrary or capricious?

    Held.

    No. The district court’s judgment is affirmed.

    Discussion.

    In this case, by Congress granting the secretary discretion the regulations were a permissible. The rationale for the regulations that favored some over others were consistent with the statutory standards and the impact does not make the scheme arbitrary or capricious. Also, whether or not an equitable alternative can be imagined, the court may only overturn the secretary’s decision if it is arbitrary or capricious.


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