CLA Files Motion for Summary Judgment in Menhaden Case
On Tuesday, November 22nd, CLA filed a Motion for Summary Judgment in Richmond City Circuit Court, on behalf of the Southern Maryland Recreational Fishing Organization (SMRFO). This motion was filed on the heels of Judge Campbell’s recent holding that there was merit to CLA’s claim that VMRC ignored the statutorily required conservation and management standards.
In its pleading, CLA spotlights the Virginia Commission’s own evaluation document, prepared by agency staff, that explains why it has side-stepped Virginia law. That evaluation document states that its priority is to remove any reference to the actual harvest amount and perpetually defer to the maximum limits set by a federal commission. The agency justified this approach because it “increases regulatory efficiency, so the regulation does not need to be modified yearly”. This means that the agency has and will continue to ignore the statutorily required conservation and management measures, including prevention of overfishing; consideration of the best available scientific, economic, and biological data; equitable allocation to users; and rulemaking that is not for the sole purpose of economic allocation. Va. Code Ann. § 28.2-203.
The motion requests that the court invalidate the illegal regulation and require the agency to follow the law. Specifically, the requested relief asks for a schedule to: (1) invalidate the illegal regulation; (2) demonstrate that it has done the required analyses and followed Virginia law to promulgate a new regulation prior to the May 2024 menhaden season; and (3) provide responses to public comments or Petitions for Rulemaking relating to menhaden, including the agency’s analyses and justifications.
CLA remains optimistic about Judge Campbell’s recent decision and feels confident that the court recognizes the merit in our argument that the VMRC abrogated its duty and ignored the mandated conservation and management standards for setting the state’s allowable menhaden harvest.
Read the full decision below: