E.D.La.: Fishing is a heavily regulated industry, and GPS tracking of vessels and reporting of catches is reasonable under Burger

The fishing industry is heavy regulated and has been by Congres since 1793. The government’s requirement of GPS tracking on vessels and reporting of the catch each day for charter fishermen is reasonable and constitutional under Burger v. New York. Mexican Gulf Fishing Co. v. United States Dept. of Commerce, 2022 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34176 (E.D.La. Feb. 28, 2022) (the opinion has 459 footnotes):

In analyzing whether an inspection regime provides an adequate substitute for a warrant, courts note the extent of regulations in the industry, as “it is the pervasiveness and regularity of the federal regulation that ultimately determines whether a warrant is necessary to render an inspection program reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” For example, in Kaiyo Maru, in holding warrantless inspections of vessels at sea provided an adequate substitute for a warrant, the court noted “foreign fishing in the [Fishery Conservation Zone] has become such a highly regulated enterprise that, given the other limitations of the inspection program, a warrant is unnecessary,” and “[v]essel owners and operators ‘cannot help but be aware that [the vessel] will be subject to periodic inspections undertaken for specific purposes.'” In this case, NMFS and the FMPs have for decades established tracking requirements for numerous portions of the commercial fishing industry. Because the tracking requirement for charter fishing vessels—similar to tracking requirements that are widespread throughout the commercial fishing industry—provides notice of location data collection, occurs at regular intervals with a limited scope of collection, and is carried out by select agencies. The longstanding practice of tracking in the fishing industry reinforces the Court’s determination that the tracking requirement sufficiently provides notice and limits discretion to contain an adequate substitute for a warrant.

Therefore, because the tracking requirement meets all three Burger criteria, the Court finds it reasonable under the closely regulated industry exception to the Fourth Amendment warrant requirement. Accordingly, the tracking requirement does not violate the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.

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