Fishermen in the Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean sought to exploit the synergy between dolphins and yellowfin tuna and began adopting a fishing method called purse seine fishing. Fishermen using this method inevitably set their nets around dolphins and tuna alike.
The Driftnet Act establishes a process under which the United States may take various actions against a foreign nation whose fishing vessels on the high seas engage in large-scale driftnet fishing. Italian fishing vessels were using these nets. Subsequent negotiations between Italy and the President of the U.S.
A fisheries officer noticed that the defendant (Yates) had scores of undersized red grouper on board. This was a violation of federal conservation regulations, which prohibited fishermen from retaining grouper under a certain length.
The plaintiff is American Pelagic, a company whose President and sole shareholder, purchased a large boat, the Atlantic Star, in 1996 to transform it into a massive fishing vessel. In 1997, NMFS issued both a valid Atlantic mackerel permit and a Northeast Multispecies fish permit to the vessel.