Governor Baker: The People Have Spoken, and They Want a Marine National Monument

Nov 6, 2015 by  | Bio |  2 Comment »

The people of New England, and especially Massachusetts, have spoken – and they want a Marine National Monument in the Atlantic.

More than 160,000 people have signed their name in support of a monument designation, including over 10,000 from Massachusetts alone. We’ve received public letters of support from coastal businesses, faith-based organizations, and aquaria. And more than 200 U.S. marine scientists, including the most prominent marine ecologists in the region, have stated that the Cashes Ledge Area and the New England Canyons and Seamounts hold special ecological value and need permanent protection as national monuments. There is no dispute about the scientific importance or vulnerability of these areas.

Our coalition said: Here’s the science; here’s what’s at stake; here are the risks to these incredible habitats. We asked the public to stand with us in support for permanent protection, and overwhelmingly, they have said – and keep saying – “yes.”

They showed up at an event at the New England Aquarium in the week before Labor Day (when they could have been doing many other things) to learn about these places and what makes them so important. They signed comment cards, and took home buttons and posters to share with colleagues and friends to spread the word. And then they showed up again, when NOAA held a town hall meeting for the express purpose of gathering public feedback. And NOAA is still accepting public comment. The Cashes Ledge Area has been studied for over ten years in a public forum. If that’s not public process, what is?

The Obama Administration should be lauded for seeking to take the steps necessary to protect critical ocean habitats from human threats – which include more than threats from fishing – and therefore require more comprehensive protection than a fishery management council has to offer. A monument is necessary to protect the health of our ocean, restore its natural productivity, and make it resilient to climate change impacts, already putting stress on iconic fish like Atlantic cod.

New Englanders are champions and leaders for the ocean, as evidenced by our commitment to drafting the first-in-the-nation regional ocean plan, due out next year. This plan will make great strides for managing the region’s ocean resources over the long term but it is not at all clear if and when this plan would consider permanent and full habitat protection of vitally important ecological areas like Cashes Ledge and the New England Canyons and Seamounts.

A marine monument designation is not an overreach of power, but rather exactly what the Antiquities Act was created to do. These areas are in federal waters and the President has critical stewardship obligations for those resources that transcend fisheries politics. Economically, scientifically, and morally, saving our ocean treasures makes sense. We hope you’ll come to agree with the thousands of people and businesses in Massachusetts who have already stood up for our future.

The Death of Atlantic Cod: The Convenience of Denial

Oct 29, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

Kelp Forest and Cod at Cashes Ledge; 70-miles off the coast of MaineAtlantic cod’s future in New England is overshadowed with existential dread. With so many opinions flying around about what the “science” says or what the fishermen “see,” trying to make sense of what is going on with Atlantic cod with any precision seems a fool’s errand. However, we must not fall victim to the convenience of denial. If anything, recent cod stock assessment shadows have only darkened.

In August, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, a NOAA entity charged with conducting ecosystem-based research and assessments of fish stocks and other marine resources to promote their recovery and long-term sustainability, completed a series of “operational assessments” for 20 groundfish stocks. The purpose of these quick assessments was to shed light on changes in stock status in the time between major stock assessment reviews, which typically happen every 1 to 3 years.

The news was not good for a number of stocks. The assessments show that, of the 20 stocks the Science Center reviewed, at least 8 groundfish populations are either in worse condition or are still not showing any recovery, despite mandated catch reductions (such as those implemented for Gulf of Maine cod). Furthermore, there are now seven assessment models that they say have “diagnostic problems,” adding a level of uncertainty about the data.

The Science Center determined Georges Bank cod populations were at an unfathomable 1% of where they should be and that 2014 fishing pressure was estimated to be 994% higher than the overfishing limit. In other words, to ensure the population of cod in a given area is sustainable, the estimated numbers of cod should be 100 times higher than what the models estimate is actually in the water – a deplorable condition made all the more troubling given the intense fishing pressure estimated on this species.

After a quick peer review, however, the New England Fishery Management Council’s Science and Statistical Committee (SSC) threw out the Science Center’s assessment model, deeming the Georges Bank cod models now so unreliable that they were unusable for management advice.

Rejecting the Georges Bank cod models conveniently means the Council can move another stock off the formal “overfishing” list and into the “unknown” category, but that doesn’t mean that the stock is in any less trouble. “Unknown” in this context means that the stock has gone off its scientific rails – which is not a comforting situation when that fish is Atlantic cod, the region’s most iconic fish species, and cod populations are estimated to be lower than at any point in history!

No good news

Models or not, certain fundamental signals of the severity of the current cod problem remain. All of the U.S. and Canadian Georges Bank cod surveys continue to show the lowest levels in decades. The number of juvenile cod has been below average since 1990.

Additionally, the fish from the recent trawl survey were smaller at various ages than in previous surveys, and the older, more productive cod seem to be virtually gone. And 2014 was the first year the Canadian survey didn’t catch any fish older than 8 years old and above 36” in length. Not very hopeful circumstances for a species that should be living longer than 20 years and growing to twice that size. The assessment scientists, once again, could not point to a single positive biological indicator for the species.

Why are cod so unproductive? It seems everyone has an opinion, so here’s mine: As the scientists tell us, these cod populations have been pummeled by rampant overfishing for 37 years in a row. Add to that the stresses of rapidly changing sea water temperatures, plankton crashes, increased predation on larvae and juvenile cod, and unreported discards… and you have a species on the ropes.

In this context, the Fishing Management Council Science and Statistical Committee’s recent catch advice to the managers for the upcoming fishing years with respect to Georges Bank cod seems only barely scientific. The Science and Statistical Committee recommended that 2016-2018 catch limits should be based on an average of the most recent three-year catches, reduced by the catch declines seen in the recent NOAA trawl surveys—a decrease of 24%. At the risk of exposing my mathematical limitations, isn’t that just about the same as scientifically blessing continued declines rather than making any recommendations that would reverse them?

The overfishing limits (OFL) they have recommended for both are reduced by identical “scientific uncertainty” adjustments– 25% –to produce their recommended acceptable biological catch (ABC).

Directionally, the Science and Statistical Committee’s advice for cod has some merit: catches should certainly be cut. But at a time when, one, there is such scientific uncertainty that the committee has to throw out the assessment model and, two, there is not one positive biological sign of any basis for hope of recovery, I have to ask: Are there any circumstances under which the science advisors will tell the managers that we must stop catching cod?

Apparently, not yet.

This Week on – October 19-23

Oct 23, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

October 20 – Fish Talk in the News – Tuesday, October 20 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, WSJ covers the Maine lobster boom; Eileen Sobeck has a message about at-sea monitors and observers; the market divide between Maine crab and lobster is growing; 18 local fishermen receive safety training; and local NPR station WCAI features Cashes Ledge and the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts. In the News, by Talking Fish.

October 21 – Fish Styx: The convenience of denying the death of Atlantic cod – Atlantic cod’s future in New England is overshadowed with existential dread. With so many opinions flying around about what the “science” says or what the fishermen “see,” trying to make sense of what is going on with Atlantic cod with any precision seems a fool’s errand. However, we must not fall victim to the convenience of denial. If anything, recent cod stock assessments shadows have only darkened. New England Fisheries, by Peter Shelley.

October 22 – Experts say: In the case for marine protection, the science begs for accelerated decision-making – The Earth is over 70% ocean, but our efforts to preserve our blue planet lag far behind terrestrial protections. Former NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco and fellow Oregon State University researcher Kirsten Grorud-Colvert published a paper in Science last week acknowledging recent global progress in ocean conservation but emphasizing the need to do much more. Protecting Ocean Ecosystems, by Talking Fish.

October 23 – Fishing in Hot Water – Taking a broader approach to fisheries management allows for increased ecosystem resilience through adaptive management, which in turn can prepare our fisheries and fishermen for the impacts of climate change. Scientific studies continue to provide evidence of warming ocean waters being the product of climate change and excessive carbon pollution. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than 99% of the world’s oceans, so being prepared MUST be a priority for Maine’s fishermen who rely on species that are dependent on cool waters. Protecting Ocean Ecosystems, guest post by Lucy Van Hook (Maine Coast Fishermen’s Association).

October 23 – Fish Talk in the News – Friday, October 23 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, 2015 will likely be the hottest year on record; Maine suspends its sea urchin swipe card system; Maine closes sea urchin fishing off Southport; Maine reduces scallop fishing to 60 days for southern part of the state; GMRI receives $6.5 million grant to expand climate change education program; Cape Cod selectman calls for creation of Cape Cod Shark Watch; U.S. Senate passes IUU fishing bill; NOAA Fisheries launches mobile-friendly; and nations fully protect over 1 million square miles of ocean in 2015. In the News, by Talking Fish.

This Week on – October 5-9

Oct 9, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

October 6 – Fish Talk in the News – Tuesday, October 6 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, President Obama announces the first new marine national sanctuaries in 15 years; President Obama says he will protect more U.S. waters; new research shows many young fish are moving north as ocean waters warm; NOAA delays the deadline for industry-funded at-sea monitoring; UNE receives federal funding for Atlantic cod research; GMRI is hosting a workshop on improving stock assessments; CT Senator urges New York to support pesticide legislation to help lobster population; and will seaweed be New England’s next big local food? In the News, by Talking Fish.

October 7 – Council Delivers Blow to River Herring in New England – The New England Fishery Management Council voted in favor of increasing river herring catch caps at its September 2015 meeting last week. This post provides an update to our readers following last week’s post, River Herring at Risk in New England Waters. New England Fisheries, by Mandy Helwig.

October 8 – Council Makes a Wrong Move for River Herring – The New England Fishery Management Council has again shown that they are unwilling to protect river herring and shad at sea. Last week at their meeting in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the Council voted to increase the amount of river herring and shad that can be caught by the herring fleet, even though the current caps have not even been in place for one year, and no science was presented suggesting that these populations have recovered. New England Fisheries, cross-post by Talking Fish.

October 9 – Fish Talk in the News – Friday, October 9 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, a new bill calls for NOAA to pay for at-sea monitoring or an end to the program; American eels will not be listed under the Endangered Species Act; UMass Dartmouth researchers use Saltonstall-Kennedy grant to study fish movement patterns; NOAA Fisheries seeks comments on regional recreational fishing action plan; local mackerel are a delicious, sustainable seafood; victories for ocean conservation at Our Ocean 2015; and the U.S. announces a new program to crack down on IUU fishing.

Call Your Senators Today to Save Ocean Treasures!

Oct 7, 2015 by  | Bio |  1 Comment »

Cashes Ledge

Over the last few months, support has grown to permanently protect our most precious ocean areas, the Cashes Ledge Area and the New England Canyons and Seamounts. If you are among those who signed our petition to President Obama, thank you! Your voice is making a difference.

But now we need your help once again. Your Senators need to hear from as many constituents as we can rally that you support this Marine National Monument. Please, call your Senators today with this urgent message. Just a few minutes of your time could help create a remarkable legacy of protected areas for future generations.

Step 1: Call the United States Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak with one of your senators.

Step 2: When someone answers, say:

“Hello! My name is ________. I am a constituent, and I ask Senator ________ to support a Marine National Monument designation for Cashes Ledge and the coral canyons and seamounts in order to save vulnerable species and ensure a healthy ocean for future generations.”

That’s all you have to say! Want to add more? Here’s what permanently protecting New England’s ocean treasures will ensure:

  • Protection from industrial exploration, including oil and gas drilling
  • Insights from scientific research, which are especially crucial in the face of climate change
  • A healthy economy: thriving fish and whale populations boost local fishing and tourism industries

Step 3: Click here to let us know how your calls went. It helps us to know that you’ve called, and your feedback helps us in determining our next steps in this critical campaign.

Thank you for your continued commitment to CLF and the creation of the Atlantic’s first Marine National Monument. We can’t do it without you.

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.

Last Week on – September 21-25

Sep 28, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

lobster shoalsSeptember 22 – Fish Talk in the News – Tuesday, September 22 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, NEFMC Habitat Committee meets tomorrow; NEFMC Council meeting is next week; RI DEM investigates menhaden die-offs; RI oyster festival promotes local oysters and composting; NH Senator hosts meeting regarding at-sea monitoring; NOAA announces commercial scup quota increase; NOAA announces no change to surfclam and quahog quotas; and UNE signs letter of intent to sponsor marine business incubator. In the News. By Talking Fish

September 23 – Why is Managing Fish in the World’s Oceans Like an Episode of ‘I Love Lucy’? – Fish scientist Jason Link says he often feels like he’s living the classic chocolate factory episode of the 1950s TV show “I Love Lucy,” in which Lucy and Ethel can’t wrap candies as fast as the conveyor belt spits them out. “We’re trying to keep up with rules on individual species whose populations are frequently changing. Our conveyor belt is moving faster and faster.” Protecting Ocean Ecosystems. By Lee Crockett.

September 24 – The Pope’s Climate Speech Reminds Us: Act Now for Saving Our Oceans – Pope Francis began his visit to the United States yesterday in our nation’s capitol where he addressed thousands of people on the White House lawn. The Pope’s visit is always expected to make headlines, and on this visit, his comments on climate change are top news. Protecting Ocean Ecosystems. By Talking Fish.

September 25 – Fish Talk in the News – Friday, September 25 – In this edition of Fish Talk in the News, Happy National Lobster Day!; Fish Locally Collaborative is organizing an Amendment 18 demonstration for next week’s NEFMC meeting; nearly half of U.S. edible seafood is wasted each year; ASMFC postpones limited entry program for Maine’s northern shrimp fishery; Aquamesh celebrates 35 years; NOAA awards GMRI nearly half a million dollars; reinforced shorelines may impact estuary recovery; an unusual cold spot in the North Atlantic worries some scientists; and NOAA will provide over half a million in funding to three aquaculture projects. In the News, by Talking Fish.

September 25 – Setting the Record Straight: Marine Monuments Have a Long, Proud Legacy – 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. Let’s set the record straight on a few things. Protecting Ocean Ecosystems, by Roger Fleming

Hundreds show to comment on Marine National Monument proposal

Sep 16, 2015 by  | Bio |  Leave a Comment

CLF President Bradley Campbell addresses the crowd at the NOAA Town Hall meeting on Sept. 15, 2015

CLF President Bradley Campbell addresses the crowd at the NOAA Town Hall meeting on Sept. 15, 2015

Last night, more than 400 people attended a meeting at the Marriott in downtown Providence to discuss the possibility of a Marine National Monument in New England. Facilitated by NOAA, the meeting drew people from every corner of New England who are invested in gaining permanent protection for the Cashes Ledge Area and the New England Canyons and Seamounts.

Over the course of three hours, we heard from aquaria, fishermen, conservationists, scientists, faith leaders, business leaders, and concerned citizens. The majority of speakers, including many representing fishing interests, acknowledged the fragility and importance of the places being discussed.

Though most within the fishing industry opposed a Monument designation, many commented about the importance of keeping the Cashes Ledge area closed. The regional fishery management process is not perfect, but it is clear the New England Fishery Management Council recognizes the importance of Cashes Ledge. As one speaker noted, ultimately, we all share the same end goal: To ensure a healthy and sustainable ocean, with healthy habitats and healthy commercial fish populations.

Monument designation about more than fishing

And while there was agreement that these areas are in need of protection, some were opposed to the President using executive authority to designate an area as a Monument, citing it as an overreach of power. However, as another speaker noted, sometimes a place is of such importance that the only way to ensure it’s not lost is through a tool like the Antiquities Act.

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

Photo by Brian Skerry

Cashes Ledge and the coral canyons and seamounts are two such places. And, in the end, commercial fishing isn’t the only human activity threatening their future. We need to safeguard these fragile seascapes from sand and gravel mining, oil digging, and other potentially destructive activities. A Monument designation will build on the existing protections for these invaluable ocean resources by the Fishery Management Council – and make them permanent.

Ultimately, it’s not the fishery management council’s duty or responsibility to preserve the scientifically important biodiversity at Cashes Ledge – nor should it be!

Conservation Law Foundation President Bradley Campbell, who joined the organization just last week, reiterated this point. “Even if the council is doing its job perfectly, it has no mandate to consider natural beauty, no mandate to consider scientific value, and no mandate to protect biodiversity or to protect jobs other than fishing jobs. So there comes a time when there are resources that are so exceptional, they’re outside the stove pipe of any given agency – and that’s what the Antiquities Act is there for.”

Regional Ocean Planning

Concerns about the Regional Ocean Planning process in New England were also brought to the podium, with some saying that a Monument designation undermines the ongoing ocean planning process. However, President Obama has publicly noted that ocean management and the designation of protected areas are concurrent priorities for his legacy. We at CLF are strongly committed to the regional ocean planning process, and are glad to have an Administration that recognizes the importance of both of these priorities.

Still Time to Make Your Voice Heard

Marine Monument protection for the Cashes Ledge Closed Area and the New England Canyons and Seamounts is within reach. Fortunately, NOAA has kept open the timeframe for public comments. Sign our petition here to let the Administration know why you support saving these ocean treasures for generations to come.


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.