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Another Victory for Citizen Coalition in Coastal Fisheries Lawsuit

Unanimous Court of Appeals Rejects State of North Carolina’s Arguments

Press Release September 6, 2022


In a unanimous decision today, the North Carolina Court of Appeals rejected the
State of North Carolina’s request for immunity from a lawsuit brought by 86 citizen
plaintiffs and the Coastal Conservation Association of North Carolina to hold the State
accountable for mismanaging North Carolina’s coastal fisheries. In July 2021, a Wake
County trial judge rejected the State’s request for immunity from the lawsuit. Today, a
threejudge panel of the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed that decision, rejecting
the State’s arguments and ruling in favor of the citizen coalition and CCA NC on every
issue.


As the Court of Appeals’ opinion explained, the State has “an affirmative duty . . . to
preserve the people’s right to fish and harvest fish,” which includes a “duty to preserve
fisheries for the benefit of the public” and a “duty to keep fisheries safe from injury, harm,
or destruction for all time.” A copy of the Court of Appeals’ decision can be found
here.

The Court of Appeals’ unanimous ruling means that the lawsuit will proceed
to a stage where the plaintiffs have an opportunity to establish the merits of their
claimsclaims that CCA NC and the citizen coalition maintain are supported by
overwhelming evidence and the State’s own data. “We are gratified by the Court of
Appeals’ unanimous decision, which reaffirms over a century of precedent and
upholds a constitutional amendment ratified by approximately 60% of the voters,”
said CCA NC’s Executive Director, David Sneed. “We look forward to proving our
case on the merits and ensuring that a legacy of sustainable coastal fisheries will be
there for all our children and grandchildren.”