Celebrating 4 Years of Northeast Canyons and Seamounts

Today marks the 4th birthday of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument which was created by President Obama in 2016. The monument is the first fully protected marine area in the US Atlantic Ocean and is special because it home to precious marine ecosystems and species like fragile deep-sea corals, diverse schools of fish and endangered species, including the North Atlantic right whale.

This is truly a precious marine ecosystem and as Maya Earles wrote for Bloomberg Law, “the Trump administration’s June announcement that the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument would be open to commercial fishing triggered a lawsuit by the Conservation Law Foundation, the Center for Biological Diversity, and others.”

Why This Matters: As Conservation Law Foundation explained, “This anniversary comes at a critical moment. This summer, President Trump proclaimed the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts open to all commercial fishing. This announcement is illegal, and we’re suing the administration for the reckless rollback. Beyond the fact that no president has the power to undo monument protections, we know we need to protect more of our waters, not less.”

Despite Trump’s actions, this is a milestone worth celebrating! The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts should serve as an example of how we can protect even more marine areas around the United States and do our part to protect 30% of nature by 2030.

The Background: As the Washington Post reported, this past June the Trump administration announced that fishing could resume at the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of New England. The Obama administration closed off nearly 5,000 square miles of ocean in September 2016 to save whales and allow marine life to recover from overfishing. The controversial decision was praised by conservationists and challenged by commercial fishermen from the start.

The Creatures: Get to know what we’re fighting for when we seek to expand protections for Northeast Canyons and Seamounts. For instance, as CLF explained, sperm whales are endangered, with only about 2,300 of them remaining in the North Atlantic. But they find refuge in the monument, away from harmful commercial fishing gear that can entangle and kill these iconic whales.

Image: Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life at the New England Aquarium

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