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News: Fishermen angle victory to protect link in ocean’s food chain

Victory: Earthjustice and NRDC case leads to federal court ordering the National Marine Fisheries Service to reconsider classifying blueback herring as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act

By Earth Justice – March, 2017

On Saturday the U.S. Federal District Court for the District of Columbia voided the National Marine Fisheries Service’s listing decision of the blueback herring, and ordered new analysis from the Service in reconsidering its finding that the herring was not at risk of extinction.

The Court compared the Service’s reasoning to a “leaky ship” and concluded that “not even the most deferential standard of review can save an agency action for which the agency can articulate no reasoned basis.”

Blueback herring are a vital link in the East Coast’s ocean and coastal food web because they are a food source for fish like striped bass, marine mammals and sea birds.

Blueback herring are a vital link in the East Coast’s ocean and coastal food web because they are a food source for fish like striped bass, marine mammals and sea birds. These small fish spend most of their lives at sea, but return to coastal rivers to spawn. Their populations have plummeted to less than 5 percent of historic abundance due to dams, pollution and unregulated catch at sea in the mackerel, squid and sea herring fisheries.

On February 10, 2015, Earthjustice — representing Plaintiffs Anglers Conservation Network, Great Egg Harbor River Council, Great Egg Harbor Watershed Association and the Delaware River Shad Fishermen’s Association — and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed the lawsuit leading to this decision. The lawsuit argued that the Service’s listing decision violated the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

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