On September 16, in a dramatic reversal of course, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced their decision not to declare loggerhead sea turtles along the U.S. East and Gulf coasts to be "endangered" under the Endangered Species Act. As a result, these most abundant of all sea turtles will continue to receive protection as a "threatened" species - a lower level of caution consistent with their reduced but improving status - without imperiling much needed jobs in America's fishing industry.
In 1998, Kelley Drye attorneys helped to establish the Fisheries Survival Fund, in part, as a means of giving the scallop industry a voice in NMFS regulatory matters that directly impact their livelihoods. In recent years, the industry has raised concerns over NMFS' proposed rule to uplist the northwest Atlantic population of loggerhead turtles to endangered.
With Kelley Drye's help, the scallop industry engaged the broader fishing community, as well as other ocean and coastal users, regarding the proposed listing change. The scallop industry submitted its own science-based comments - including a leading scientist's critique of the underlying loggerhead population assessment, legal analysis, and information derived in part from the association-supported sea turtle research - all of which NMFS relied on in reversing course.
Additionally, Kelley Drye helped galvanize visibility for the issue on Capitol Hill. In all, 18 members of Congress requested detailed information and asked pointed questions that brought to the fore scientific evidence that the uplisting was not justified. Fortunately, NMFS came to a conclusion that will avert the unnecessary loss of jobs and revenue that could have resulted from a different finding.
About the Fisheries Survival Fund
The Fisheries Survival Fund is an association of full-time harvesters committed to the continued sustainable harvest of the Atlantic scallop resource. Scallopers contributed millions of dollars to groundbreaking turtle research through the scallop research set aside funds. This cutting edge research has greatly increased our understanding of loggerhead turtles and their interactions with fishing gear.
About Kelley Drye & Warren LLP
Kelley Drye & Warren LLP features the nation's foremost multidisciplinary practice in the area of marine fisheries and resource management. The firm brings together an excellent skill set in fisheries litigation, regulatory procedure, and government relations. The fisheries practice attorneys are part of a team of seasoned lobbyists, as well as economists, public relations professionals, and other attorneys with expertise of particular value to commercial fishing businesses. In addition to fishery and marine resource conservation and management, our team handles matters involving international trade and customs, trade regulation, food and drug law, food safety, cross-border transactional counseling and negotiation, arbitration and business law.