WASHINGTON, D.C. ― The Conservation Lands Foundation applauds Thursday’s designation of the New England Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.
President Obama’s proclamation will make this the first national monument in the North Atlantic Ocean.
“In taking this action, President Obama has demonstrated the same bold leadership he has shown in protecting America’s mountains, rivers and forests,” said Brian O’Donnell, executive director of the Conservation Lands Foundation. “The monument will advance the important work of the White House to improve the resiliency of marine ecosystems in the face of climate change.”
New England Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is located approximately 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod, where the continental shelf drops off into the Atlantic Ocean. The monument protects several massive undersea mountains (known as seamounts) and canyons. This unique area has the only such underwater mountains in the U.S. Atlantic, and some of the canyons are deeper than the Grand Canyon.
This imposing environment is home to fragile deep-sea corals, some more than one thousand years old. The depth and ruggedness of the canyons and deep-sea marine habitat in the region has kept them largely off-limits to most fishing, yet continuing pressures to find new ways and places to drill, mine and fish put these areas in harm’s way and required decisive action in order to protect them for future generations.
“Oceans have lagged far behind land conservation, despite their incredible biological diversity,” O’Donnell said. “We are excited to witness the creation of a new monument with a focus on climate change resiliency and an aim to protect vulnerable ecosystems. We applaud the transparent and collaborative process by which the monument was created.”
Prior to establishing the marine monument, the Administration held a series of meetings with the fishing industry, scientists, conservation organizations and the public. The result is a national monument designation which incorporates fishing industry concerns while providing permanent protection for rare and sensitive marine ecosystems.
The President used his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate the new monuments. This science-based action came in response to support from marine scientists, New England businesses, faith communities and conservation groups. More than 300,000 people have sent messages of support to the White House during the nearly year-long public comment period.
Recent polling conducted in June 2016, showed 78 percent of Massachusetts and Rhode Island residents support permanently protecting New England’s Canyons and Seamounts.