Document Type



This Article addresses the extent of federal executive branch authority to manage fisheries in the marine waters of the United States. The conventional view of this authority is that fisheries are jointly managed by the National Marine Fisheries Service (Fisheries Service) and regional fishery management councils. Under this view, the Fisheries Service generally cannot make fishery management decisions of its own accord. A review of congressional delegation to the executive branch of fishery management authority reveals that the executive has greater authority to manage fisheries than this conventional view allows. In certain circumstances, the executive can act outside the council system to ensure that commercial fisheries are conducted in a truly sustainable manner. This Article begins with an explanation of the conventional councildominated view of fisheries management. It then reviews the full scope of existing federal executive branch authority to manage fisheries and concludes that authority exists outside the council system for the executive to manage fisheries. This authority can be used by the executive to complement council-dominated management and may be especially useful in those situations where the council system proves incapable of making decisions that ensure the sustainability of the fishery resources of the United States.



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