Federal appeals court reverses ruling on American Samoa fishing grounds
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Federal appeals court reverses ruling on American Samoa fishing grounds

The US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on Friday reversed a decision banning large fishing vessels from fishing in a zone around the American Samoa territory.

The government of American Samoa filed a federal lawsuit in 2016 stating that the US government shrank the fishing zone around the territory meant for local fishers from 50 to 12 nautical miles. This area was off limits to boats larger than 50 feet to prevent gear conflicts and to avoid competition between large fishing operations and local fishers. A judge for the US District Court for the District of Hawaii ruled in favor of American Samoa.

The Ninth Circuit reversed the judgment, stating that the National Marine Fisheries Service “considered the input offered by ASG regarding the rule’s impact on fishing communities, the probable effects of increased large vessel longline fishing, and the availability of fish.” Therefore, since “the agency ‘has considered the relevant factors and articulated a rational connection between the facts found and the choice made, the decision is not arbitrary or capricious.'”

The ruling further states that “the Western Pacific Fishery Management Council and ASG are developing strategies to develop and increase alia fishing, however, and NMFS will annually review the effects of the rule, providing ASG the opportunity for further input and challenge.”