President Trump signed a proclamation today, reopening the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument (NCSMNM) to commercial fishing activities, a devastating decision for the Atlantic Ocean’s first and only marine national monument. While the president claimed the move would provide much-needed relief to New England’s commercial fishermen, fewer than 10 lobster and red crab vessels fished the 4,913 square mile monument’s waters before the designation. Now, forests of ancient corals and hundreds of rare and iconic ocean wildlife species are at risk of permanent damage.
Bob Dreher, senior vice president of Conservation Programs at Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“President Trump’s announcement today is complete political posturing. Opening up the nation’s only marine national monument in the Atlantic will help no one but a handful of fishers while risking irreparable damage to the marine wildlife that have no other fully protected areas off our eastern seaboard. Ancient and slow-growing deep sea corals, endangered large whales and sea turtles, and an incredible array of fish, seabirds, sharks, dolphins and other wildlife – these are the species and habitats that will pay the price.”
Approximately 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod, NCSMNM is the first and only marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. Established by President Obama in September 2016, NCSMNM protects irreplaceable habitats for 54 species of deep-sea coral and hundreds of marine species, including seabirds, sharks, whales and dolphins, fish and sea turtles. The monument hosts endangered whales (including the North Atlantic right, sperm, sei, fin, and blue whale) and endangered sea turtles (including the leatherback, loggerhead, and the Kemp’s ridley—the world’s smallest and most endangered sea turtle).