Setting the Record Straight: Marine Monuments Have a Long, Proud Legacy

Sep 29, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

A cunner swims through healthy kelp forest at Cashes Ledge

A cunner swims through healthy kelp forest at Cashes Ledge

Former Conservation Law Foundation Staff Attorney Roger Fleming, who is now a part of the Oceans litigation team at EarthJustice, details how the National Monument establishment process through the Antiquities Act serves the public’s interest. 

By Roger Fleming

One hundred-nine years ago this week President Teddy Roosevelt created the first national monument, protecting the magnificent Devil’s Tower formation in Wyoming. Since then, sixteen presidents – eight from each party — have used the power granted by Congress in the Antiquities Act to create more than 115 monuments protecting the nation’s natural and historic heritage on land and at sea, from the Statue of Liberty to the Marianas Trench.

Now we have a chance to see that proud tradition in action again to protect a national treasure right here in our backyard with a Marine National Monument off New England’s coast. On September 15, 2015, NOAA hosted a town hall meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, in order to discuss the possible establishment of a monument that could include deep sea Coral Canyons and Seamounts and Cashes Ledge. Scientists have identified these areas as deserving of special protection due to unique undersea terrain and nutrient upwelling that supports cold water coral gardens, our largest cold water kelp forest, fish, marine mammals, seabirds, and more.

A broad coalition of scientists, small business owners, fishermen, faith groups, civic leaders, and conservationists have sent a clear message that we need to save these ecologically important places before irreparable damage is done, so that future generations can enjoy their unimaginable beauty and a healthier marine environment. That is exactly what the Antiquities Act is intended to do.

Unfortunately, opponents in the fishing industry have attempted to muddy the waters with unfounded concerns about the “process” being used to provide protection for these areas.

Opponents who spoke at NOAA’s town hall event argued that the monument designation process is undemocratic, and that decisions about how to manage these areas should be left to the New England Fishery Management Council, which oversees fishing in the region’s federal waters.

Many who gave comment also complained about a lack of opportunity for public comment on the monument designation. Let that sink in for a moment: complaints about a lack of public comment were made while giving public comment.

Let’s set the record straight on a few things.

First, the monuments process is democratic.

President Obama has the authority to establish permanent protection of these areas through designation of a monument under the Antiquities Act. This Act is another tool provided to the democratically-elected president by our democratically-elected Congress to preserve areas identified as historic landmarks and areas of scientific interest before it is too late – before the opportunity to save a valuable resource is lost. This president’s predecessor, George W. Bush, created four monuments in the Pacific Ocean covering a total of 860,000 square kilometers. None exist in the Atlantic Ocean.

Second, there has been—and continues to be—public input into the process.

Already in this nascent proposal for a new marine monument there has been a town hall meeting where anyone wishing to do so was given the opportunity to speak and an ongoing public comment period through which over 160,000 people have already written in support of saving these important places. Arguably, the Obama administration has gone out of its way to provide opportunities to be heard on a proposal, in circumstances where it is not at all required to by law.

Leading up to the monument proposal, there were years of study of these areas and numerous opportunities for the public and other stakeholders to provide relevant scientific, economic, and other information, and to otherwise make their views known as possible protections were discussed in different venues, including the fishery management process.  Because the President’s decision must be based on science, this will all be considered.

Third, the New England Fishery Management Council has a checkered history regarding public and scientific involvement, and an even worse record as a steward of the public’s ocean resources.

The fishery management process remains dominated by the fishing industry and fails to adequately consider broader public interests. One need only look to the status of New England’s iconic fish species, the Atlantic cod, for evidence of this. Cod stocks have collapsed and the region’s groundfishing sector was declared a disaster, costing taxpayers millions of dollars. The record clearly shows that New England’s Council ignored repeated warnings from science about the deteriorating condition of cod stocks until it was far too late. Just last year more than a hundred-forty scientists and more than 150,000 members of public implored the council to protect more habitat for these and other depleted fish. But the Council instead voted to slash the amount of essential fish habitat protected by more than 60 percent.

The Council did succeed in identifying the ecological, economic, and social importance of the Cashes Ledge Closed area, and has closed the area to most bottom fishing. However, this action came only after an earlier vote to strip existing protections from that area. Further, the limited protections in place leave nearly all of the area open to other fishing, including the East Coast’s largest fishing vessels – industrial midwater trawlers – which are capable of stripping the area of essential forage fish, catching non-targeted fish, mammals and other marine animals as bycatch, and are known to contact the bottom when fishing. The protections in place are not permanent and could be removed at any time through the fishery management process.

Similarly, the New England canyons and seamounts have been identified by the Council as important ecological areas but they have received very few protections which are not worthy of their unique ecological importance.

Finally, this is not just about fishing.

New England’s “Fishery Management” Council has no authority to address other potential threats that could surface for the area, such as marine mining, drilling, or other industrial activity. Unlike the tenuous, partial protections now in place for Cashes Ledge and New England’s Canyons and Seamounts, a national monument provides permanent protection against all types of harmful extraction.

Such protection would benefit critically endangered right whales, which are known to depend on Cashes Ledge, fantastic deep-sea corals in the Canyons and Seamounts, and the important sea birds that feed on the surface of these rich waters.  Many coastal businesses, including many fishermen, support the proposal because they recognize there will also be broad economic benefits that will result from protecting these unique treasures and a healthier marine environment.

These areas belong to the U.S. public, and overwhelming evidence shows that the monument process is fair and that a marine monument would best serve the public’s interests now and into the future.

LePage Stands on the Wrong Side of History with Monument Opposition

Sep 9, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

The Obama Administration is currently considering a proposal to permanently protect key areas of New England’s ocean as the first Marine National Monuments in the Atlantic, including three deep sea canyons and four sea mountains at the southern edge of Georges Bank. CLF is continuing to urge the administration to include the area between Cashes Ledge and Fippinies Ledge (a roughly 500-square-mile area 80 miles off the coast of Maine) in its monument designation.

As my colleague Peter Shelley explains here, Cashes Ledge and the coral canyons and seamounts are unique ecosystems that are critical “living laboratories” for understanding the impacts of climate change on our ocean resources – from warming waters to the increasing acidification of our ocean waters. Permanently protecting the Cashes Ledge Closed Area may also provide one of the last best chances for recovery of overfished species such as Atlantic cod, because the area would become a refuge for highly productive large, older female cod.

Kelp Forest and Cod at Cashes Ledge; 70-miles off the coast of Maine. Photo by Brian Skerry

Kelp Forest and Cod at Cashes Ledge, 80 miles off the coast of Maine. Photo by Brian Skerry

This is a tremendous opportunity to take meaningful action today that will ensure our children and grandchildren will have at least some vestige of our historical New England ocean to work in and experience. Here at CLF, we’re working hard with our partners to explain the nature and scope of what permanent protection would mean through meetings with federal, state, and local leaders, with commercial fishermen and marine businesses, with recreational fishermen, and with our friends and allies in the nonprofit world.

The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Just last week, at a public event held at the New England Aquarium in Boston, more than 600 people turned out in support of permanent protection of these special places. We’ve been hearing that same kind of support throughout Maine, from Bar Harbor to Kittery.

Disappointing but not surprising has been the response from Maine’s illustrious Governor LePage. While Maine’s Congressional delegation continues to thoughtfully evaluate the proposals for permanent protection, fightin’ Paul LePage came out swinging early – before even knowing the details of the marine monument proposal. Not only does he oppose the idea of permanently protecting the Cashes Ledge area, he opposes the whole idea of National Monuments period. Not surprisingly, this puts the Governor at odds with every President since Teddy Roosevelt, who wrote the Antiquities Act and then invoked the power granted to the President under the Act to permanently protect the Grand Canyon from mining in 1908. Indeed, a century later, the first large Marine National Monuments were established in the Pacific Ocean by George W. Bush.

The Governor’s opposition is not surprising given how fast and loose he has played with the Land for Maine’s Future bond money. The good new is that, by now, many people realize that the sound and fury from Augusta doesn’t signify much. In a recent poll conducted by Maine Biz, when people were asked if they supported the Governor’s opposition to the marine monument idea for Cashes Ledge, more than 2 to 1 they said they did not.

As CLF has been conducting our outreach, we’re finding that the more people understand the fact of this marine monument proposal – including the value of Cashes Ledge as marine habitat for critical species such as cod, halibut, and endangered North Atlantic right whales; its significance as home to the largest coldwater kelp forest on the Eastern seaboard; the lack of any significant commercial activity there for more than a decade; and the potential Cashes Ledge holds in helping us to understand and adapt to the impacts climate change will have on our marine resources – the more they support it.

We hope you will join this rising chorus and help make history by signing our petition in support of the Atlantic’s first marine national monuments. We only have 7 days to make our voices heard before the official public commenting period for this proposal closes. Please don’t wait. Sign our petition today.

Thank you for being a part of history in the making.

Your Attendence Needed in Providence Next Tuesday

Sep 8, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Momentum is building for protecting ocean habitats in New England – and your voice has never been more important. Next Tuesday, September 15, NOAA is holding a town hall meeting to hear from people like you about why Cashes Ledge and the Coral Canyons and Seamounts deserve protection as the Atlantic’s first Marine National Monuments.

If you will be in the area, we encourage you to attend! Sign up here to let us know you’ll be attending. If not, spread the word about this event to friends, family, colleagues, or others you know who may live or work near Providence, RI.

The NOAA Town Hall Meeting will be held Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 6-8 p.m. at the Providence Marriott Downtown, 1 Orms St, Providence, RI, in the Sessions/College/Canal Room. We need to show the Obama Administration that there is overwhelming public support for permanently protecting the Cashes Ledge Area.

The Administration has indicated that it will consider permanent protection of New England’s Coral Canyons and Seamounts. But Cashes Ledge is at risk of being left out. Your presence and support is needed now more than ever!

The Cashes Ledge area provides refuge for hundreds of marine species, many of which are rare and unique, and is critical to the vibrancy of our coastal communities. Under perpetual threat from human impacts, such as climate change, industrial exploitation and fishing, Cashes Ledge is a jewel that needs full protection right now.

If you have not yet done so, please sign our petition asking the President to designate Marine National Monuments for the Cashes Ledge Area and the Coral Canyons and Seamounts.

Thank you so much for your support in this critical time.

President Obama: Declare a Marine National Monument for Cashes Ledge and the Canyons and Seamounts

Sep 3, 2015 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Today, Conservation Law Foundation and a diverse coalition of partners are calling on the White House to declare the Cashes Ledge Closed Area in the Gulf of Maine and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts off the coast of Cape Cod as the first Marine National Monument in the Atlantic.

Atlantic cod Cashes Ledge

The kelp forest at Cashes Ledge is critical nursery habitat for Atlantic cod.

CLF has fought for years to permanently protect the remarkable Cashes Ledge Area. This biodiversity hotspot provides refuge for a stunning array of ocean wildlife – from Atlantic cod to endangered right whales, bluefin tuna to Atlantic wolffish. But just as important, it’s an open-sea laboratory for scientists to advance our understanding of the impacts climate change will have on our oceans and our coastal communities.

The Coral Canyons and Seamounts, located about 150 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, also shelter an incredible breadth of sea life, including spectacular coral formations, some the size of small trees that have grown for hundreds of years. Whales, dolphins, squid and other marine life all call these submerged canyons and seamounts home.

Cashes Ledge and the Canyons and Seamounts are fragile and in need of protection from commercial fishing and other destructive commercial activities. I’m excited to say that public support for their protection is growing. Last night, more than 650 people joined us at a sold-out event hosted by the New England Aquarium and National Geographic, where we heard firsthand from business owners, divers, scientists, and others that these places are unique treasures that we must protect for future generations.

We’re on the brink of an historic opportunity: To protect these special places by creating the Atlantic’s first marine national monument. But we need your help to make this happen: President Obama needs to hear from you, today. Please take a moment to sign our new petition calling on the White House to make this monument designation.

Why a Monument, and why right now?

Unlike other types of protected areas, a national monument designation provides protection against all types of harmful commercial extraction, such as commercial fishing, oil and gas drilling, sand and gravel mining, and other harmful commercial activity.

Since the Antiquities Act was passed in 1906, almost every U.S. president has designated special natural and cultural places with the highest form of protection.

New England's coral canyons are home to otherworldly coral formations.

New England’s coral canyons are home to otherworldly coral formations.

Cashes Ledge and the Canyons and Seamounts are vitally important to scientific research, due to the abundance and variety of unique and rare species, and their largely pristine nature. As we face the challenge of resiliency in the face of climate change, these underwater research laboratories will be key in studying how – and how well – we are able to adapt.

Some species of invertebrates, corals, and other marine wildlife take many years to form, and provide refuge and food for other rare and recovering species. But these precious habitats can only sustain themselves when they are protected in their entirety. Current protections by the New England Fishery Management Council are commendable, but they are not permanent or enough. A monument designation would expand on the existing protections and make them permanent.

There has never been a better time to protect these areas. The public is more engaged now than ever before. Earlier this year, more than 150,000 comments from the public were sent to federal fisheries managers, urging expansion of protection of important marine areas in New England. Since that time, support in other sectors has caught on: We’ve now heard from local businesses, aquaria, prominent scientists, educational institutions, and recreational users that they support permanent protection for these special areas. And with the success of last night’s event, we are full steam ahead for this effort.

Helping, not hurting key players

The Cashes Ledge area has been closed to bottom trawling and dredging for 13 years, and while the Coral Canyons and Seamounts see some minor pelagic longlining, the catch from this area contributes to barely 1.5 percent of revenues from that fishery. So, very little fishing currently occurs in these two areas. Permanent closure will benefit fish populations, which will finally be able to rebuild to healthy levels. What’s more, fish – like Atlantic Cod – that thrive and spawn in protected areas eventually move outward to surrounding waters, which supports healthy, sustainable fishing for future generations.

The economic benefits of permanent protection are also clear: The New England ocean economy supports more than 230,000 jobs and brings in $16 billion to our region – most of which is from tourism and recreation. Both of these rely on healthy and thriving oceans, and abundant fish, whales, seabirds, and the like.

At Conservation Law Foundation, we envision a healthy, thriving New England, for generations to come. A monument designation shows that we care about the ocean – and the people and communities that rely on it for their livelihoods – and we couldn’t be more excited to make this a reality.

Please join us in support of permanent protection for Cashes Ledge Area and the New England Canyons and Seamounts. Sign our petition today asking the White House to designate these areas as the first Atlantic Marine National Monument!

Miss the event last night? Check out the #SaveOceanTreasures stream to see pictures and updates.

Join us September 2 to Protect Ocean Treasures

Aug 21, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

You are invited to join world-renowned National Geographic photographer Brian Skerry for an evening of scientific exploration about two extraordinary underwater Atlantic Ocean landmarks in New England.

RSVP to join us at the New England Aquarium in Boston at 5:30pm on Wednesday, September 2, 2015.

Come learn about the need to permanently protect these special places from human threats – forever.

A red cod swims in the healthy kelp forest on Cashes Ledge

A red cod swims in the healthy kelp forest on Cashes Ledge

Cashes Ledge in the Gulf of Maine and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts, 150 miles off Cape Cod, are two spectacular underwater places located off New England’s coast. These precious ecosystems provide refuge for hundreds of species, many of which are rare and unique, and they are critical to the vibrancy of our coastal communities.

But these treasures are under threat from climate change, industrial exploitation and fishing.

That’s why we’re gathering with distinguished guests, including Brian Skerry and some of New England’s most prominent marine scientists: Dr. Jon Witman, professor at Brown University; Dr. Peter Auster, Senior Research Scientist at Mystic Aquarium; and Dr. Scott Kraus,ice President for Research at the New England Aquarium. 

We hope you’ll attend our free pre-event reception at 5:30, where you’ll meet fellow supporters from CLF and other environmental organizations involved in this historic effort to permanently protect Atlantic Ocean treasures – and make your voice heard in support of these marine treasures.

Now is the time to protect Cashes Ledge and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts – and we need your help! Your presence will show that the people of New England care about these underwater ocean landmarks. RSVP today.

September 2, 2015  |  Reception: 5:30   |  Event: 6:15

New England Aquarium, Simons IMAX Theater, downtown Boston

“Her Deepness” Dr. Sylvia Earle is commemorating her 80th birthday with a dive at Cashes Ledge

Aug 6, 2015 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Photo courtesy of Mission Blue

Photo courtesy Mission Blue

Dr. Sylvia Earle is many things: Oceanographer. National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence. Scientist. Diver. Founder. Pioneer. Author. Advocate. And, my favorite – conservationist.

As Dr. Earle prepares to dive with Conservation Law Foundation at Cashes Ledge this weekend to celebrate her 80th (yes, 80th!) birthday, I’ve been learning a lot about this inspiring and accomplished person.

Many people have been exposed to Sylvia’s work through her recent Netflix documentary, Mission Blue, but Dr. Earle’s work as an advocate for the world’s oceans began decades ago. Her accomplishments and achievements are many, so I’ll attempt some highlights:

In 1964, Earle embarked on a dive in the Indian Ocean where she was the only woman in a 70-person crew – a pioneer and role model for women in the sciences

  • In 1979, Earle walked untethered on the ocean floor, a world record-setting 1,250 feet below the surface. After this dive, she was fittingly dubbed “Her Deepness” by the New Yorker, a nickname that has stuck
  • In 1990, she became the first female chief scientist of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Earle was named TIME’s first “Hero for the Planet” in 1998

Dr. Earle’s work and accomplishments are seemingly endless. She has led more than 100 expeditions and logged more than 7,000 hours underwater. Having dived at remarkable places all over the world – from the Galapagos Islands, to the coast of China, to Oahu – Dr. Earle is coming to Cashes Ledge for the first time. As a renowned scientist who could visit any of the world’s amazing underwater places, we’re excited that she’s chosen our amazing place, right here in New England’s backyard.

Cashes Ledge underwater mountain range is an ecological hotspot. Its tallest peak, Ammen Rock, disrupts the Gulf of Maine current, creating the conditions necessary

Photo courtesy Kip Evans/Mission Blue

Photo courtesy Kip Evans/Mission Blue

for an abundance of unique wildlife. In recent years, it’s seen threats of a reopening to fishing (which would be disastrous for the creatures and habitats that find refuge there); it is also at risk from climate change and the potential for industrial exploration. Because of this, Cashes Ledge needs permanent protection, and we’re so excited to work together with Dr. Earle to make this a reality.

In Mission Blue, Dr. Earle spoke about areas in the ocean that need special protections, the same way certain land areas are designated as national parks. She calls these places “hope spots” – places where we can still have hope for saving and conserving the ocean — and therefore our future. Because, as she says: “No blue; No green.” No ocean, no us! We are thrilled that Cashes Ledge and the deep-sea canyons and seamounts are being declared a Hope Spot.

The dive at Cashes Ledge is scheduled for Aug. 8-12, 2015, but is dependent upon weather conditions. Follow along on Twitter @theCLF where we’ll be posting updates with the hashtag #HopeforCashesLedge.

How Climate Change Could Affect Your Lobster Roll

Jul 6, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Did you think we could finally put this year’s harsh winter behind us? Think again. The summer season has officially started, but it seems our lobster roll – New England’s famed summer seafood – is paying the price for the snowy winter…or at least we are paying the price for the lobster roll.

A lobster at the Isles of Shoals, off the coast of Maine/New Hampshire. Photo credit: Brian Skerry/NEOO.

Lobsters are available in New England year round, but any New Englander will tell you that the true lobster season kicks-off in the summertime. This is when the sweeter, juicier soft shell lobsters, often known as “shedders,” undergo molting, a growth process during which the crustaceans shed their old, too-small shells and grow new, larger ones. After the molting process is complete, the lobsters then migrate closer inshore where they are readily available for lobstermen to haul up in their traps.

So far this season there have been numerous news stories on the increasing price of lobster. On average, lobster per pound prices are already $1 to $2 more expensive than last year’s, a trend that University of Maine researchers have attributed to lower ocean temperatures due to the past winter.

Ocean water temperature heavily influences the timing and frequency of the molting process, which in turn influences when lobsters are ready for harvest. Adult lobsters living in colder waters will typically only molt once a year and are known to have later molting periods compared to those in warmer waters. Since the harsh winter caused a drop in ocean temperatures, the lobster molting season in New England has been delayed, at least compared to recent years. This has resulted in a lower supply of lobsters and a slower, more expensive start to the summer lobster season.

As Dr. Bob Steneck from the University of Maine told Business Insider, this summer “will be a one-molt season, based on temperatures,” and that molt will likely not occur until July or August. Unfortunately, until that occurs, we can expect to pay a little more for our lobster dinners.

Don’t let the cooler water temperatures fool you, though; if anything, this summer is a glimpse into the past. The start of this year is contrary to recent trends we are seeing in the lobster industry – lucky for our wallets, not so lucky for the lobsters. Lobsters are a cold-water species that will continually face the impacts of climate change such as warming ocean temperatures and ocean acidification on a daily basis.

Climate change is the reason why we saw record high lobster landings and low prices in 2012 and 2013. Warming ocean temperatures triggered an early molting and migration season for lobsters, leading to a high supply early on in the summer. Also, since the molting occurred so early, we experienced a two-molt season, which is atypical for New England waters and leads to a high supply of lobsters throughout the summer.

These conditions are not sustainable for lobsters. In warmer temperatures, lobsters are forced to use more energy for respiration, and therefore have less available for feeding, growth, energy storage, and reproduction. A lobster’s immune response is also compromised by the warmer water, which is evident from the upsurge in occurrences of shell disease.

We must not let the current season fool us – climate change still remains a great threat to our lobster populations. Global warming rates are not slowing down; they are occurring faster than ever. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the rest of the ocean. In an attempt to understand climate change impacts on the lobster industry and help the lobster industry better prepare for the season, the Gulf of Maine Research Institute has started a lobster forecasting project and was able to accurately predict the late start for this year’s season.

Unfortunately, this prediction model has come too late for the southern New England lobster industry, which has all but disappeared as the lobsters migrated north in search of cooler waters. Hopefully, in the Gulf of Maine, it can be a new tool in our climate change adaptation belt.

Take Action to Protect Ocean Habitat

Dec 5, 2014 by  | Bio |  5 Comment »

New England’s ocean is a unique and breathtakingly beautiful marine environment. One of the extraordinary places that CLF has featured as part of its ocean conservation efforts is the highly productive, diverse, and dramatically beautiful Cashes Ledge. Tragically, despite these valuable and irreplaceable characteristics, Cashes Ledge is in danger of being opened to trawls, dredges, and other destructive fishing practices pursuant to a fisheries management proposal that would eliminate its currents protections—and ultimately do more harm than good to Cashes and numerous other fragile ocean habitat in our region.

Kelp Forest at Cashes Ledge; 70-miles off the coast of Maine

For more than ten years Cashes Ledge has been protected against the most damaging forms of fishing, such as bottom trawling and dredging. But the New England Fishery Management Council is now considering a proposal that would remove these protections. The proposal, known as the Omnibus Habitat Amendment (OHA), includes a range of alternatives for managing ocean habitat. One alternative would eliminate all the current protected areas that now provide fish a safe haven from damaging fish trawls and other harmful gear. Another alternative would reduce the amount of protected ocean in New England by as much as 70%. Among the many harmful alternatives being considered is one, preferred by the Council, that would expose more than 70% of the currently protected Cashes Ledge area to damaging bottom fishing. The Council has made a preliminary decision to move forward with this alternative that would eliminate protection for areas where the imperiled Atlantic cod obtains refuge to feed, spawn, and avoid predators–in spite of recommendations from its own technical staff and scientists to leave Cashes fully intact!

This is not only contrary to the OHA’s habitat protection objective, but an overall bad sign for an ocean ecosystem already unable to sustain healthy populations of important species like Atlantic cod and flounder.

Now is your chance to tell the Council and NOAA that you won’t stand for this kind of mismanagement. You can submit written comments to these agencies here, as well as make a statement in person at public hearings that are currently taking place all over New England and in a few of the mid-Atlantic states. Your simple presence at these meetings would demonstrate to the Council the widespread support for keeping Cashes Ledge permanently closed to harmful fishing practices. As New England ocean-lovers, it is our responsibility to reveal to others the true beauty of our home waters, and show that New England’s ocean is a spectacular ecosystem that deserves to be protected.

Thank you for your continued support, and we hope to see you out there!

“Snap the Shore, See the Future”

Oct 8, 2014 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment


Point Judith Sunset. Photo Credit: Austin Recio.

Living in the Gulf of Maine area, climate change and sea level rise are bound to affect our lives. According to the EPA, we could see a 2-foot rise in global sea level by 2100. For almost 50 years Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) has worked to restore and protect the Gulf of Maine and surrounding waters, New England’s largest public trust resource. Our work includes cleaning up our harbors, protecting ocean wildlife and critical ocean habitats like Cashes Ledge, and working to create a region-wide plan to help coastal communities adapt to rising sea levels caused by climate change.

It can be difficult to imagine the effect climate change will have on our coastlines. That’s why CLF appreciates the work of the King Tides Project, a non-profit organization made up of local interest groups that strives to effectively explain to people just how climate change will impact our coasts and the people living there.

King tides are completely natural phenomena, occurring twice a year when the sun and moon align. And even though they are regular and predictable, king tides have a chance of damaging coastlines if they occur during poor weather conditions. These tides “give us a sneak preview of what higher sea levels could look like.”

The next king tide is tomorrow, October 9th at 12:30pm—this is where you come in. The King Tides Project is hosting a Gulf of Maine King Tides Photo Contest! The organization wants local residents to visually document how the king tide—what may very well be “the new tidal norm” with sea level rise—is affecting Gulf of Maine coastal areas. So, CLF members and supporters, here is your chance to show us how you view the Gulf of Maine and why we should take action to reduce the effects of climate change! For more information, you can go to the Gulf of Maine King Tides website.