Apply the IRAC method of legal reasoning to prepare an answer to the following:
The National Marine Fisheries Service “NMFS” (a federal agency) has the duty and authority to protect endangered species. The NMFS developed a marine fishery plan (“Fishery Plan”) for the North Pacific that regulated fishing in the area, yet permitted significant harvest of the fish by commercial fisheries during certain months. Greenpeace, an environmental group, challenged the agency’s Fishery Plan on the grounds that the agency did not consider a sufficient number of biological studies and the detrimental impact of the Fishery Plan on the endangered Stellar sea lion population. The NMFS had reviewed 5 biological studies and taken into account juvenile fish in its final estimates of fish remaining/reproducing in the Pacific North after harvest. The NMFS concluded that the Fishery Plan would not cause significant harm to the Stellar sea lion population and that the Stellar sea lion would have a sufficient food source based on the final estimates of fish remaining/reproducing after harvest. Greenpeace’s marine biologist expert testified that counting juvenile fish in the estimate of remaining fish was misleading because juvenile fish are incapable of reproducing. She stated that that the fish remaining/reproducing after harvest by commercial fisheries would actually be 22% lower that NMFS’ estimates, limiting the food available for the Stellar sea lion. According to Greenpeace, the Fishery Plan would cause significant harm to the population of Stellar sea lions in the North Pacific.
After exhausting all remedies available at the NMFS, including with the agency’s appellate board, Greenpeace files suit in federal court, claiming that the NMFS agency’s Fishery Plan should be invalidated under the Section 706(2)(A) of the Administrative Procedure Act.
Section 706(2)(A) of the Administrative Procedure Act instructs federal courts reviewing agency regulations to invalidate any agency action found to be “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with law.” Federal courts in the past had interpreted “arbitrary and capricious” to mean that the agency’s rules/regulations were made on unreasonable grounds or without any proper consideration of circumstances.
What will the federal court likely decide in this case? Apply the IRAC method of legal reasoning by stating the Issue, Rule, Analysis, and Conclusion. There are no wrong conclusions (as long as your conclusion is supported by analysis).
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