A lawsuit brought against the National Marine Fisheries Service challenges the new "hired skippers" rule in the halibut and sablefish fisheries.
The plaintiffs, Fairweather Fish Inc. and Ray Welsh, must be pretty serious, with six lawyers signing the 40-page complaint.
Welsh is claiming the new rule discriminates against him because of his disabilities.
The suit is pending in the federal court at Tacoma.
For background, here's an item published in Pacific Fishing magazine that explains the hired skippers rule:
The National Marine Fisheries Service on July 28 published a “final rule” to clamp down on the rising use of hired skippers to harvest halibut and sablefish quota. The two fisheries converted to catch shares beginning in 1995. One goal of regulators was to encourage owner onboard fisheries. However, progress toward this goal was slipping because some initial quota share recipients were acquiring more quota and using hired skippers to go catch it. Initial recipients hiring skippers nearly doubled in the halibut and sablefish fisheries between 1998 and 2009, federal data shows. The final rule, which takes effect Dec. 1, will prohibit using a hired skipper to harvest quota acquired after a cutoff date of Feb. 12, 2010. For holders of such quota, the alternatives include climbing aboard the boat and fishing it themselves, or selling the shares.
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