Fourth Circuit Applies Major Question in Shrimping Clean Water Act Case

On Monday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a ruling by the U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina finding that shrimping trawlers that disturb ocean floor sediment and discard other fish and marine organisms, or “bycatch,” after extracting shrimp from their nets are not discharging a pollutant under the Clean Water Act (Act). In so doing, the court made clear that neither discarding bycatch nor kicking up sediment already on the ocean floor constitutes the discharge of a pollutant or dredge or fill material that would otherwise require a permit by the Act.