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Document Type

Comment

Abstract

The administrative structure of federal fisheries management in the United States has evolved to directly represent the interests of user groups that now exert tremendous influence over the management process. Frequently, the involvement of such groups has prevented the effective regulation of federal fisheries. As with many areas of regulatory control, the federal regulating entity for marine fisheries has always had to deal with at least two competing user groups whose interests are more often than not at odds. Like other regulatory entities, the federal administrative process has gone to considerable lengths to involve user groups in the decisionmaking process. However, such involvement has resulted in management that has not been resource minded, for example, management that is best for the continued health of the resource, or management that this article will equate with being in the public interest. Given the difficulty involved with managing vast fishery resources, success in achieving what is best for the resource would be more readily accomplished without user groups exerting excessive control over the decisionmaking process. This Comment discusses the potential for change in the administrative rulemaking process for federal fisheries management, particularly the regional council approach. After a brief background discussion to highlight concern over the council structure, it begins with a general discussion of negotiated rulemaking and its role in administrative government, including some popular criticisms of the concept. Next, this Comment briefly outlines the authority delegated to the Regional Fishery Management Councils [hereinafter Councils] and the structure established by federal law, detailing the required representation of regulated interests as voting members of the Councils in attempt to demonstrate their similarity to negotiated rule-making committees. It then turns to a more pragmatic discussion of how the evaluation and criticism of negotiated rulemaking applies to the Councils. This Comment concludes with an evaluation of how such criticisms might lead to improvements in the enabling legislation and consequently the rulemaking process for federal fisheries management. Specifically, how restructuring the Councils to preclude voting membership for user group representatives would provide more effective "resource minded" management.

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