President Obama will designate a section of the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Cod on Thursday as a national monument, banning commercial fishing in the area by 2023 in an effort to protect the region’s ecosystem.
The president signed a proclamation designating the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument as protected shrines, resulting in a ban on commercial fishing, mining and drilling. A seven year exception will be made, however, for the lobster and red crab industries.
Water temperatures in the area, about the size of the northeastern state of Connecticut, are expected to get warmer much more quickly than the global average.
The announcement comes as a conference on protecting the ocean began Thursday in Washington. It will be attended by leaders from more than 20 countries who will announce the creation of their own marine protected areas.
Environmentalists, such as the Sierra Club, are pleased with the president’s proclamation. “By designating the coral canyons and seamounts a new national monument, President Obama is giving this part of the ocean a fighting chance to continue to thrive in the face of a warming climate,” said executive director Michael Brune.
Conservation Law Foundation president Bradley Campbell said: “From valleys deeper than the Grand Canyon, to peaks as high as Mount Washington, to the hundreds of diverse and endangered species that call this place home, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts is the embodiment of a treasure worthy of such permanent protection.”
The fishing industry is strongly opposed to the creation of the monument and it is likely to be opposed by some Republican lawmakers who have been critical of the president’s use of executive power to protect public spaces.
Obama’s creation of the national marine monument will be the 27th time he has created or expanded a national monument. It comes two weeks after he expanded a monument in the Pacific Ocean near the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Laura F. Nixon