Today, President Trump signed a proclamation that reverses a decision by President Obama in 2016 to create the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of New England. The monument, which is roughly the size of Connecticut, is the first of its kind in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean and was established to protect vulnerable deep-sea coral and sponge gardens from destructive fishing methods.
Oceana senior campaign manager Gib Brogan released the following statement in response to the announcement:
“Today’s proclamation is another nail in the coffin for both productive fisheries and healthy oceans in New England. Instead of addressing the critical issues facing our nation, President Trump just gave the green light to wreak centuries-worth of damage to deep-sea corals, seamounts, canyons, and sea life that depend on this marine national monument for protection. By allowing all fishing back in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts and removing the phase out of the lobster and red crab fisheries, the hundreds of marine mammals that swim in the monument will be at increased risk of entanglement including the endangered North Atlantic right whale, which the president himself acknowledged needs protecting. Deep-sea coral and sponge gardens that are thousands of years old will also lose protection from damaging fishing gear.
Protecting deep-sea waters is a win-win for both fishermen and healthy oceans, as healthy oceans from the seafloor to the surface will help sustain robust fisheries for years to come. The creation or expansion of the national marine monument does not restrict the amount of fish available to commercial fishermen, only the area in which boats can catch fish has been modified. Nothing indicates that fishing harvest has been harmed in the creation of any of the marine national monuments.
This assault on our oceans joins the administration’s almost-daily actions to dismantle environmental protections for our nation’s air, water, oceans, historic treasures and wildlife — and to shut down public participation in decisions by our federal government. Another political attack on our environment will put the longevity of productive fisheries at stake unless this action is reversed immediately. Oceana will make sure that President Trump’s proclamation does not go unchecked.”