Our attorneys have deep experience in regulatory compliance, administrative procedure, government relations, litigation, and transactions related to the use and management of the world’s ocean and waterways resources. Our international team includes regulatory counsellors and advocates; litigators; transactional attorneys; scientists; former U.S. congressional, federal agency, and military staff; and seasoned lobbyists, as well as economists and public relations professionals.
We combine in-depth industry knowledge with a full-service law firm specializing in areas of key importance to global ocean-related businesses. In addition to fisheries, shipping, and marine resource conservation and management, we handle matters involving international trade and customs, trade regulation and facilitation, food safety, cross-border trade and conservation, transactional counseling and negotiation, arbitration and business law.
Our team specializes in the following practice areas:
We provide counsel and representation in local, national and international fora to help our clients surmount a wide range of fisheries management challenges. We devise public relations, political, and legal strategies to support our client’s sanctioned goals. We look for solutions beyond simply those that can be found in court, and work with legislators and governmental agencies on fisheries access, traceability, and anti-illegal, unregulated and unreported (“IUU”) fishing programs. Often the best approach to emerging-resource and protected-resource issues is to move proactively to confront problems with a reasonable, science-based and industry-driven response. We therefore often work with a wide range of international world-class fisheries scientists and other technology leaders to help our clients. Our experience ranges from helping local fishing communities preserve their way of life to developing national-scale fisheries conservation and management programs.
We assist clients with vessel sale, documentation and other issues involving the U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Administration as well as under U.S. cabotage laws. We also counsel and advocate for our clients regarding domestic and multinational emerging air and water quality treatment requirements, such as ballast water and marine fuel standards.
Marine Spatial Planning
We help clients plan for future uses of the marine environment on local, national, and regional levels. Our attorneys and advocates work to influence policy and regulations involving new domestic coastal marine spatial planning initiatives, at both the agency and congressional levels. Our practice extends to the science and logistics of area-based fisheries management, both at home and abroad.
Ports and Waterways
We represent port authorities and marine operators across the U.S. For decades, our attorneys have been committed to representing the legal and government relations interests of port industry clients in a wide variety of policy, regulatory, litigation and environmental matters. We have significant experience in environmental and land use matters, including claims directed at remediating contaminated properties and submerged lands; restoring injured natural resources and navigable waterways; managing dredge material and dredge disposal facilities; and prosecuting claims designed to recoup economic and property damages resulting from impacts to ports and commerce created by hazardous materials. Additionally, we represent port industry clients in a broad range of commercial and construction matters; tariff interpretations and enforcement issues; dredging and dredge material management; United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) regulations and permitting; lease and easement negotiations and litigation; and emergency response and security measures. We have worked with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works; the Office of Management and Budget; and U.S. congressional committees to have navigation improvements federally authorized and funded. Additionally, we have extensive experience representing clients in the Court of Federal Claims and other fora where disputes with the federal government are adjudicated. Finally, we have worked with the commodities industry on permitting and regulatory issues associated with the transportation of commodities on navigable water.
Natural Resource Damages
We have a unique and sophisticated natural resource damages (NRD) practice. Our attorneys have worked on NRD matters from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean and the waters of Guam. We are one of the few law firms in the country to have been retained by both governmental trustees and private sector clients to represent them in NRD matters. NRD claims may encompass injuries to oceans, bays, rivers and other surface waters, wetlands, sediments and soil, groundwater, wildlife, fish, birds and other biota. The economic consequences of injuries associated with hazardous substances and environmental degradation can have a substantial impact upon our clients, the channels of commerce, and the public, making them some of the most significant, complex and costly environmental claims. Because we are at the forefront of NRD litigation and related matters, we are able to add efficiencies and reduce costs through an understanding of, and appreciation for, the critical legal, scientific and economic factors that must be addressed to effectively prosecute or defend against such claims.
Natural Resource Transactions
We advise companies on international business transactions concerning ocean and marine resources, with particular experience in the fishing industry. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing lessors and equity investors in sophisticated domestic and international equipment and facility financings, structured through leases or through limited or nonrecourse project financings. We represent clients in the transportation industry, and in domestic and international energy and natural resource project financing.
Our attorneys work closely with borrowers and purchasers to acquire necessary working capital facilities; term loans; acquisition financing; credit facilities for restructurings and debtor-in-possession financing; and facilitating asset-based lending transactions involving numerous asset classes and various types of collateral.
We reinforce our transactions teams with practitioners with deep industry knowledge in highly regulated sectors such as energy and natural resources, maritime and fisheries, transportation, telecommunications, space satellites, financial services, health care and manufacturing, to name a few. And to meet the demands of each client’s specific matter, we include attorneys with proficiency in a variety of other legal and business areas―tax, antitrust and trade regulation, securities law, environmental law, labor law, employee benefits, intellectual property law and real estate. We also advise clients on cross-border income taxation issues as well as the effect U.S. state and local taxes have on maritime transactions.
Protected Species Litigation and Advocacy
When a species is listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), Marine Mammal Protection Act, or Lacey Act without scientific justification, it can severely affect businesses that rely on those species. It can also impact most activities in the location where the species is found. We have successfully defended against regulatory and litigation-based ESA challenges and have sought policy-level changes in the regulatory and legislative arenas.
Cross-Border Trade and Conservation
Our attorneys successfully engage in international, multilateral and bilateral treaties and forums where restrictions, rules and standards are set and, subsequently, become domestic law. We protect clients’ interests from unwarranted restrictions and capitalize on opportunities to promote sustainability initiatives, technological and administrative solutions, and conservation and research programs in situ and ex situ. Our strategy and advocacy team has particular experience with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD), the World Animal Health Organization (OIE), and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS). In addition, we regularly assist clients in obtaining necessary permits and complying with the complex array of international and national laws and requirements applicable to the transboundary movement of live fish and animals or their derivatives.
International Trade and Supply Chain Issues
Our trade and regulatory attorneys have experience advising clients on supply-chain management of all types of products imported into the United States (including agricultural and processed food and fish and seafood products) and compliance with U.S. customs and other federal agency requirements. We counsel on U.S. Customs and Border Protection procedures and import-related regulatory issues emerging at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Federal Trade Commission, Department of Commerce and Congress. We also litigate and advise as to the application of anti-dumping, countervailing duty orders and other duty-related proceedings before the International Trade Commission, the Department of Commerce, the United States Trade Representative and other agencies. We have assisted clients with food safety monitoring, and compliance with forced labor-made import prohibitions; counseled on country of origin labeling and IUU harvests; and monitored treatment of fish and fish products in regional and multilateral trade regimes and talks, including the elimination of fish subsidies that contribute to illegal fishing practices. We have also assisted clients in forming export promotion boards.
Corporate Social Responsibility
Global companies and their trade associations are increasingly faced with the challenge of managing global risks arising from corporate activities, supply chain issues and product stewardship and creating achievable and effective policies and practices to ensure respect for human rights and protection of the environment. Our attorneys and professionals assist clients to develop and operate international compliance programs and to put in place and properly report on achievements on sustainability and contributions to internationally shared human rights and labor principles and goals.
Public International Law
We are recognized as one of the few law firms with a true, systematic practice of public international law. We routinely advise clients – companies, sovereign States or international organizations – on a wide range of international law issues such as the interpretation and application of treaties, the international responsibility of States, sovereign immunity, environment protection, and other issues. We also represent them in domestic and international litigation.
International Arbitration and Enforcement
We have extensive experience in representing multinational clients before international arbitral tribunals (including ICSID, ICC and ICDR litigation) and in award enforcement proceedings before domestic courts. Our attorneys have assisted some of the world’s largest construction, energy, manufacturing, financial services and automobile conglomerates, over claims under bilateral investment treaties, allegations of fraud, insurance coverage, breach of contract, and other business related issues.
Georgetown Economic Services (GES), a subsidiary of Kelley Drye, delivers sophisticated economic analysis to our clients in a range of industries and practice areas. GES helps identify issues, shape technical and public policy positions, and strengthen our clients’ litigation cases or competitive positions. Trade associations and companies also rely on GES to illuminate developments and trends in their industries and markets, providing such services as global and U.S. market research, international trade data and statistical indicators. This type of analysis is particularly relevant since agencies involved in the regulation of natural resource-based industries rely heavily on economic data to justify specific positions on sustainability initiatives and regulatory costs. The GES team of professionals includes former senior analysts from across key federal agencies involved in international trade and related matters, which gives them an insider’s eye regarding not only today's economic realities, but also the trends that will shape client success in the coming years.