SW Legal studies in Business

Agencies Given Broad Regulatory Authority May Use that Power
Description

Oregon appeals court upheld regulations issued by the state Fish and Wildlife Department to restrict crab fishing. The legislature gave the Department wide authority to do so. If the regulations happened to harm the livelihood of some crab fishers, that did not affect the validity of the rules.

Topic Administrative Law
Key Words

Rules; Validity; Statutory Authority; Crab Pots

C A S E   S U M M A R Y
Facts

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (OFW) issued regulations that commercial crab catchers had to have permits from OFW, as it would limit when crabbing could occur and how many crabs could be caught. The effect of the rule was to benefit small vessels over those with large vessels. Some vessel owners contested the authority of OFW to issue such rules.

Decision

Rules held valid. In resolving whether an agency exceeded its statutory authority in making a rule, the court must determine if the substance of the action departs from a legal standard expressed or implied in the particular law being administered. The court reviewed the statute that authorized rule making and read the words of the rule in the context of the statute. The legislature specifically wished for the crab fishery to be protected to ensure its viability over time. It instructed OFW to “establish a system for restricting participation in the Oregon ocean Dungeness crab fishery.” The crab pot allocation system devised by OFW fits within that general instruction. OFW was given broad powers to regulate the crab fishery. The fact that some members of the industry do not like the rule does not make it invalid.

Citation

Fishermen Against Irresponsible Reallocation, Inc. v. Fish and Wildlife Comm., 22 Or.App. 353 (2008 WL 4330678, Ct. App., Ore., 2008)

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