Protecting Ocean Ecosystems

Monument when? Monument now!

A red cod swims through healthy kelp at Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine. Photo credit: Brian Skerry/NEOO

On a hot and humid Wednesday night, over 600 people came out in full force to show overwhelming support at the New England Aquarium for permanent protection of the Cashes Ledge Closed Area and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts. The public joined forces with a diverse coalition of partners, including Conservation Law Foundation (CLF), National Geographic Society, Natural Resources Defense Council (CLF), the Pew Charitable Trusts, Earthjustice, Environment America, Center for American Progress, Oceana, National Wildlife Federation, and the Humane Society, to call for the establishment of a Marine National of Cashes Ledge and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts.

The Marine National Monument will be first in U.S. Atlantic waters and will permanently protect – forever – Cashes Ledge and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts, encompassing a total area of 4,647 square nautical miles.

Last night’s event took us below the waves and exposed us to the breathtaking diversity of ocean life and habitat found at Cashes Ledge and the Canyons and Seamounts including schools of Atlantic cod and pollock, walls of deep sea corals, and carpets of myriad invertebrate species. Renowned marine scientists led a discussion on the ecological significance and interconnectedness of these New England ocean treasures, and we also learned about the charismatic marine megafauna, such as right whales, basking sharks, and dolphins, that frequent the areas.

A common octocoral found on the New England Seamounts forms beautiful spirals as it grows. Image via NOAA Okeanos Explorer.

A common octocoral found on the New England Seamounts forms beautiful spirals as it grows. Image via NOAA Okeanos Explorer.

A red cod and cunner swim on Ammen Rock, the highest peak of Cashes Ledge.

A red cod and cunner swim on Ammen Rock, the highest peak of Cashes Ledge Photo credit: Brian Skerry/NEOO.

Members of the audience representing coastal businesses, local fishermen, local tribes, scuba divers, and more expressed the importance of establishing a marine national monument now, drowning out the oppositional, and somewhat misleading, viewpoint offered by a New England Fishery Management Council representative.

Our ocean ecosystems need our help. We cannot afford to wait any longer. A Marine National Monument will protect these special places from human threats now and forever!

You can read more in blogs from Peter Shelley, Conservation Law Foundation’s Interim President, and from Peter Baker, Director of U.S. Oceans Northeast for The Pew Charitable Trusts.


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