Friday, October 7, 2011

Court Rejects Lawsuit That Would Have Closed 2011 Sacramento Fall-Run Chinook Salmon Season

On September 30, 2011, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California rejected a lawsuit filed by the San Joaquin River Group Authority ("SJRGA").  The lawsuit challenged the Pacific Fisheries Management Council's adoption of fishing management measures for Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon for the 2011 fishing season and the National Marine Fisheries Service's approval of those  management measures.

In a memorandum decision authored by now-retired Judge Oliver Wanger, the court first dismissed the Pacific Fisheries Management Council as a defendant on the ground that it was not an "agency" within the meaning of the Administrative Procedures Act:

The court next concluded that SJRGA lacked standing to bring such a lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service, describing the failure by SJRGA to prove that the alleged harm from the 2011 management measures was "sufficiently imminent" or that the alleged risk of additional burdens on SJRGA's water rights was causally linked to the 2011 management measures.  The court found that SJRGA failed to demonstrate a likelihood that the challenged action would cause any harm to its members' water rights.

After finding that SJRGA lacked standing, the court went on to consider the merits of the case.  The court rejected SJRGA's arguments that the federal defendants had violated the Magnuson-Stevens Act, National Environmental Policy Act, and Administrative Procedures Act.

The district court's memorandum decision and order in the case, San Joaquin River Group Authority v. National Marine Fisheries Service, et al., Case No. 1:11-CV-00725, may be found here and here, respectively. 

If you have any questions concerning this decision, please contact Rebecca R. Akroyd or the KMTG attorney with whom you normally consult.

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