Fishermen ask Supreme Court to overturn 40-year-old decision

 January 6, 2024

Jerry Leeman serves as chief executive officer of the New England Fishermen's Stewardship Association (NEFSA), and he complains that the Biden administration is a threat to his livelihood.

Yet in a recent op-ed piece published by Fox News, Leeman argued that the Supreme Court can save him and other fishermen. 

Fisherman forced to pay salary of government monitors

Leeman noted how "the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) places monitors aboard select commercial fishing voyages and passes the expense on to fishermen."

He described this policy as an "intrusion" that is "most unwelcome" and led his organization to file an amicus brief in an upcoming Supreme Court case.

Fox News reported last spring that America's highest judicial body agreed to hear the case, which was brought by a group of New Jersey fishermen who are challenging the monitor requirement.

The plaintiffs are upset over having to pay $700 per day to staff their fishing vessel with a NOAA-contracted compliance monitor.

Leeman: Having monitors on board creates a safety hazard

In his op-ed, Leeman explained that "NEFSA’s brief adds a simple point – the observer program is unsafe for observers and fishermen alike."

"A commercial fishing vessel is one of the most stressful and dangerous working environments in our country," he declared.

"A fishing vessel is a crucible. There is very little space and absolutely no privacy. We work grueling shifts and routinely go days without sleeping – once you’re on the fish, there’s really no stopping," Leeman pointed out.

He stated that "even experienced fishermen break under the pressure," and Leeman recalled an incident in which he "had to return to port early because two members of my crew got into a fight."

Observers say Court may overturn important 1984 case

Fox News noted that the case hinges on the Supreme Court's 1984 decision in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.

That ruling found that courts should generally defer to government agencies when it comes to interpreting states, provided that an agency's interpretation is "reasonable."

While lower courts have thus far cited Chevron when ruling against the fishermen, some legal experts believe the Supreme Court may be on track to overturn it.

One of them is Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) president Carrie Severino. She told Fox News, "The Court's decision to grant this case is a promising sign that it intends to either overturn the precedent or give much needed clarity to lower courts applying it."

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