Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

Deep-sea coral, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument | NOAA
Deep-sea coral, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument | NOAA

Due to widespread public support to protect areas for their natural, scientific, and historic significance within the Northeast Atlantic Ocean, President Barack Obama created the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument on September 15, 2016,. This area became the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. The monument is under the effective management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Located 130 miles Southeast of Cape Cod, the monument encompasses 4,913 square miles composed of three underwater canyons and four seamounts (submarine mountains). These waters are home to at least 54 species of deep-sea coral that provide a foundation for vibrant deep-sea ecosystems. The seamounts provide habitat for rare and endemic species, many of which were just recently discovered and are only present inside the monument. Thus, this habitat demonstrates significant scientific interest, providing the opportunity to learn about new species that cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.

Unfortunately, this region has been among the hardest hit by two of the biggest threats to the world’s oceans: overfishing and climate change. It is precisely because of these threats that the monument was established. Commercial fishing is prohibited within the monument in order to help rebuild the populations of lobster, tuna, and other species at the brink of collapse. These protections will result in a positive spillover effect outside the monument’s boundaries, increasing the population of popular commercial species and ultimately helping ensure a sustainable commercial fishing industry in the North Atlantic.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is one of the monuments targeted for review by President Trump’s Executive Order 13792, instructing Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review the designation of 27 monuments established in the last 20 years. The review includes determining whether the size is “the smallest area compatible with the proper care and management of the objects to be protected.” In creating the monument, President Obama took into account the exact same criteria. In fact, to address concerns from commercial fishermen, the monument as created was smaller than the original size proposed. The designation was ultimately made after numerous meetings and deliberations with conservationists, community members, and local businesses. Nevertheless, the current Administration’s revaluation is underway.

We need your help in defending this monument and its incredible value for people and wildlife, The Interior Department has provided a comment period, open until July 10th, enabling the American people’s voices to be heard on protecting our national monuments. Please leave your comments to Secretary Zinke and express your support for our nation’s public lands and waters!

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument | NOAA
Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument | NOAA

Permanent link to this article: http://refugeassociation.org/2017/06/northeast-canyons-and-seamounts-marine-national-monument/

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