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Charter fishing operators appeal tracking ruling

March 8, 2022 GMT

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Gulf of Mexico charter fishing boat operators opposed to federal regulations requiring that they affix tracking equipment to their vessels have taken their case to a federal appeals court.

Last week, U.S. District Judge Susie Morgan in New Orleans upheld the regulations, rejecting the charter operators’ lawsuit against the National Marine Fisheries Service.

NMFS says the devices will help make sure logbooks are correct and that data on catches are accurately reported, the agency said in court records. The operators argue that permanent tracking amounts to a violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Morgan’s ruling noted that the fisheries service has tracked commercial vessels for years. She said the information collected is limited in scope and that it is gathered at regular intervals — not like an unannounced search.

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The suit was filed in 2020 by a group of charter operators from Louisiana and Florida.

Hoping to revive the suit, the operators went to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. No dates have yet been set for filing of briefs or arguments.

The operators argue that permanent tracking amounts to a violation of Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.