Protecting Ocean Ecosystems

On World Oceans Day, Help Defend New England’s National Monuments!

A close-up of a crinoid illustrates the pinnules on the long arms used to filter food from the water. Image courtesy Northeast Canyons 2013 Science Team/NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program.

Happy World Oceans Day!

Each year on June 8, ocean advocates from around the world honor our oceans and come together to help sustain a healthy world ocean for everyone today, and in the future.

This year’s World Oceans Day is more important than ever as some of our most treasured ocean areas (as well as land areas) are under attack. President Trump has ordered a review of 27 national monuments around the United States – including the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument – and has expressed a desire to reverse the hard-earned protections for these monuments. The Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument is another New England treasure that is also under threat.

National monuments, both on land and at sea, help define who we are as a nation. They honor our country’s historical, cultural, and natural heritage, and preserve our most important lands and waters for future generations.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts was designated by President Obama on September 15, 2016. Currently it is the only marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean. Located just 150 miles off the southeast coast of Cape Cod, MA the monument contains four seamounts – extinct underwater volcanoes – and three canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon. Scientists have shown that the area is a biodiversity hotspot, home to many rare and unique species. Ancient deep-sea coral communities thrive in the canyons and on the seamounts, and endangered whales, sea turtles, and seabirds feed in the nutrient-rich water above. The area is also home to many commercially-important fish species, and now, given the current protections, these species have a refuge area for spawning, feeding, and nursery grounds. Studies have shown that protected areas can create a spillover effect of fish species to help stabilize and grow populations.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts monument was designated after extensive public input, including a year for people to provide input to the Department of Commerce through an online comment portal, public meetings attended by government officials, and extensive consultation with stakeholders, including multiple meetings with the fishing industry. Hundreds of thousands of people, many local businesses and organizations, elected officials, and scientists from across the country support the monument.

As a region and a nation, we rely on abundant ocean resources. The need to protect these resources and critical areas is ever-increasing due to expanding human use of our ocean and the impacts of climate change. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, as well as all national monuments, help protect our most special natural, cultural, and scientific resources. Protections for all of our national monuments must be maintained for the benefit of all Americans.

Let the Department of Interior Secretary Zinke and your U.S. Senators  know you want New England’s national monuments to remain protected for future generations to enjoy. The deadline is July 9 – please take action now!


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