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U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear appeal of NH fisherman burdened by $700/day federal agent aboard

Union Leader Correspondent

October 02. 2017 4:21PM
A snapshot of David Goethel from the documentary “Saving New England Fisheries,” which aired on New Hampshire Public Television in the spring of 2016. (File photo by Kimberley Haas)

HAMPTON — A commercial fisherman who sued the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration over its $700 per day at-sea monitoring program will not have his petition heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.

David Goethel, of Hampton, filed his original suit against the federal government in 2015. He was joined by Northeast Fisheries Section 13, which represents fishermen from Massachusetts to North Carolina.

Cause of Action Institute, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit oversight group advocating for economic freedom and individual opportunity, funded the lawsuit. They announced Monday’s Supreme Court decision in a press release, and vowed that the fight is not over.

“The Department of Commerce has gone beyond the bounds of the law in putting this financial burden of more than $700 per day on small-scale fishing businesses in the Northeast. Because the New England Fishery Management Council has announced its intention to extend this unlawful requirement to other fishermen, we will continue to look for ways to challenge that and to require the Department of Commerce to follow the law,” CoA Institute Vice President Julie Smith said.

Goethel said in July that he believes it is illegal for NOAA officials to require commercial fishermen to pay for at-sea monitors — third-party contractors who monitor catches and compliance with regulations on a percentage of a fishing vessel’s trips — when it is NOAA that mandates them.

On Monday, Goethel said the following as part of his statement:

“The Supreme Court was our last judicial hope to save a centuries-old New England industry. I’ve been fishing my entire adult life, and I will try to continue, but the costs associated with at-sea monitoring will be crushing.”

Goethel told the New Hampshire Union Leader Monday night and said his next step is to write to the new U.S. Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross. He feels that the judicial system was stacked against the fishermen.

“I am very, very frustrated. I’m frustrated for the people in my industry,” Goethel said of the lawsuit, which was argued on technicalities and not the merits, according to court paperwork. 

Sector 13 Manager John Haran said Monday was a sad day for the New England fishing industry, adding that many fishermen will likely be put out of business.

Each term, 7,000 to 8,000 new cases are filed in the Supreme Court. Plenary review, with oral arguments by attorneys, is granted in about 80 of those cases, according to the court’s website.

General News Fishing Hampton

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