April 11, 2014
U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns has ruled in favor of NOAA in the lawsuit Massachusetts filed last year charging that NOAA failed to utilize the best science available when instituting draconian cuts to groundfish catch limits and failed to consider the adverse economic impact of those cuts.
Stearns’ ruling for summary judgment on behalf of NOAA closes the case on the lawsuit initially filed last May by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley and joined by New Hampshire last fall as an intervening plaintiff.
The ruling stated that Massachusetts and New Hampshire failed to make a convincing case in any of their challenges under the current standards applied to NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service for the methodology and accuracy of the science employed in developing the stock assessments that led to the cuts.
“The Commonwealth has failed to clear the ‘high hurdle’ of proving that NMFS ignored ‘superior or contrary’ scientific information in performing its stock assessments as is required (for) a violation,” Stearns wrote in his opinion.