President Obama has recently established the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off of the coast of New England. The monument is the first in the Atlantic Ocean and measures in at 4,913 square miles, roughly the size of Connecticut. This move comes a month after President Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in Hawaii by 442,781 square miles. Christopher Horvat explains that this monument, which spans the ten Hawaii islands and is protected from any comcercial exploitation, is home to a large selection of life that has evolved far from other sources of land, creating a unique exosystem. In total, President Obama has set aside over 548 million acres of federal land over the last eight years, more than twice the area of any previous president.
The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument houses both geological and ecological wonders. Under the waves lurk extinct volcanoes and massive mountains. Sea creatures include ancient coral, endangered sea turtles, whales, and rare fish. The area is also predicted to increase in temperature at three times the average rate of the world’s oceans due to global warming, making conservation particularly urgent.
Critics voice concerns over the impact of the New England fishing industry. They argue that red crab and lobster fisheries in particular could stand to lose up to 10 million annually from the change. To alleviate the harm to the fishing industry, the federal government has decreased the original proposed size of the memorial, extended a seven year grace period to red crab and lobster fishing operations, and extended a variety of grants and low-interest loans to fishermen.
Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Christopher Horvat from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Harvard University for his thoughts and knowledge, which aided greatly in the writing of this article.
White House Release
President Obama Creates the First Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean
Additional News Coverage
Obama creates the largest protected place on the planet, in Hawaii
Obama Designates 1st Marine National Monument In The Atlantic Ocean Listen· 3:06
The Atlantic Ocean’s First National Monument
Obama Creates Atlantic Ocean’s First Marine Monument
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