NRDC and Partners Sue Trump Administration Over Marine Monument Rollback

WASHINGTON – NRDC (the Natural Resources Defense Council) and partners sued the Trump administration today challenging President Trump’s recent unlawful attempt to roll back protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.

Together with the Conservation Law Foundation, Zack Klyver, a whale watch naturalist in Maine, and the Center for Biological Diversity, NRDC filed the complaint in federal court in Washington, D.C. The plaintiffs are challenging President Trump’s action as unauthorized by the Antiquities Act and the U.S. Constitution, and asking the court to bar the Trump administration from enforcing the President’s order opening the monument to commercial fishing.

Kate Desormeau, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, offered the following statement:

“Northeast Canyons and Seamounts was created to protect a complex web of marine life—including endangered whales, sea turtles, and centuries-old deep-sea corals—from extractive activities.  President Trump does not have the power to unravel this national monument or any other, and we’re asking the court to stop the administration from opening this unique and fragile ocean area to commercial fishing. 

“Preserving ocean areas like this one will be absolutely key to ensuring the resilience of our oceans in a changing climate.” 


The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, about 130 miles off the coast of New England, was designated in September 2016 after an extensive outreach process that included more than a year of stakeholder outreach and opportunities for public comment.  It provides habitat for a wide range of species, from endangered whales to Atlantic puffins to centuries-old deep-sea corals.

On June 5, President Trump moved to open this unique and fragile ocean area to commercial fishing.

In a case filed by commercial fishermen challenging the monument’s designation, a federal appeals court ruled last December that presidents have the authority under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to establish marine national monuments. 

  • A copy of the complaint filed today can be found here.
  • An illustrated video that gives a glimpse of the undersea life New England’s ocean monument protects can be found here.
  • Photos and videos of the monument area are available upon request.

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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC

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