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Litigating Authority of the Regional Fishery Management Councils

Date of Issuance:

The legislative history and general statutory framework of the Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 indicate that Congress did not intend the Regional Fishery Management Councils to have litigating authority independent of the Department of Justice, so as to enable them to challenge in cou rt a decision by the Secretary of Commerce taken under the FCMA and relating to the establishment of the Councils and their functions.

The Councils have neither express statutory authority nor that freedom from executive control that would give rise to some inference supportive of their having independent litigating authority.

The general rule against inter-agency and intra-agency lawsuits arises not only from a desire for centralized control of litigation, but also from the constitutional principle that disputes between entities subject to the control of the President should be resolved within the executive branch.

Updated July 9, 2014