Obama Creates First U.S Atlantic Marine Monument off New England Coast

WASHINGTON – President Obama today established America’s first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean, designating a 4,900 square-mile ocean area about 150 miles southeast of the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The following is a statement by Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, about the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument:

“Teddy Roosevelt had the foresight to protect the treasures of America’s landscape.  With that same boldness, President Obama is conserving the crown jewels of our nation’s seascape.  This historic act will make our ocean more resilient to climate change.  By preserving this rich diversity of marine life, it will also support New England’s coastal and ocean economy.”

The new monument includes a series of underwater canyons, some deeper than the Grand Canyon, that are carved into the outer continental shelf, along with 4 seamounts.  The seamounts are underwater mountains that rise more than 7000 feet above the ocean floor—higher than any mountains east of the Rockies.  Establishing this monument protects an underwater area that teems with marine life, including sperm whales, dolphins, sea turtles, sea birds and centuries-old deepsea corals. The monument area will be permanently off limits to offshore oil and gas drilling, commercial fishing, deep seabed mining and other forms of commercial exploitation.

Leading marine scientists say that safeguarding these ocean wildlife habitats with their exceptional array of species will help create reservoirs of genetic diversity.  This is a critical step in making our oceans more resilient to climate change, scientists say—especially as human activities reach deeper and deeper into the sea.  It can help species adapt to new conditions, and move beyond protected areas to repopulate other areas.

"We need sustainable fisheries and economically sustainable communities. This monument can help bring both forward," said Rhea Suh. 

For a look at these stunning and unique ocean areas, please see photos (and captions) here.

A map of the monument area is available here.

For more information, please see NRDC’s Brad Sewell’s recent blogs here:

A list of additional stakeholders available for comment can be found here.


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The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 2 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, Montana; and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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