New England Fisheries

No Economic Impact from Atlantic Monument Designation

A high diversity coral community living together on a hard rock area. Image courtesy of NOAA Okeanos Explorer Program, Our Deepwater Backyard: Exploring Atlantic Canyons and Seamounts.

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, designated by President Obama on September 15, 2016, is a biodiversity hotspot home to vibrant deep-sea coral communities, a plethora of fish species, endangered whales, and rare seabirds. In area, the monument covers less than 1.5 percent of the U.S. Atlantic Ocean – a postage stamp size.

Now that the monument has been in place for nearly two years, we can show that the designation has had no economic impact on the commercial fishing industry.

Using publicly available data, NRDC recently completed an analysis of the landings and revenues for two fisheries: the squid, mackerel, and butterfish fishery and the Atlantic highly migratory species fishery (focused primarily on tuna and swordfish). Prior to designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, the commercial fishing industry claimed that these fisheries would be the most immediately impacted by a monument designation. NRDC’s analysis tells a very different story:

  • Compared to the previous five years (2012-2016), overall landings for the squid, mackerel, and butterfish fishery increased 54 percent and overall revenues for the fishery increased 27 percent in 2017 (the year after monument designation).
  • Compared to the previous two years (2015-2016), overall landings and revenue of tuna and swordfish were unchanged in 2017.

This analysis is reinforced by the inadvertently released documents from the Department of the Interior early last week. Those documents revealed that staffers had recommended deleting language addressing the minimal economic impact of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts on the commercial fishing industry from Secretary Zinke’s monument review report. It was all a pre-planned scam to exploit our public resources from the beginning.

We cannot allow an anti-environment administration and a handful of loud voices take what belongs to all of us. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts – and all our national monuments – must remain protected.


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