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

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.

Focus Areas


2 Responses to “Governor Baker: The People Have Spoken, and They Want a Marine National Monument”

  1. jason bahr

    Protecting the oceans is very important. We have a process through NOAA and NMFS that does this. You are trying to circumvent the process with an executive order. This is wrong in so many ways and you should be ashamed of yourself. You are going to put many people out of work if you accomplish this goal for dubious protection at best. Doing things with executive order is not what this country is founded on. You are demanding dictatorial action. If you do not see that as wrong then you do not believe in the ideals that this country was founded upon.
    There is a process in this country for fisheries management and it is NOT the Antiquities Act. Your desire for power and control will devastate many peoples lives and you do not care about them at all. I implore you to go to the homes of these men and women and tell them they must no longer do what they love to do. Take their keys to their home and cars and wish them good luck on the dole.

    • Peter Shelley

      Misinformation and personal attacks are not constructive. Monuments are created by the President by executive action as they have been by virtually every president of both parties since the Antiquities Act was created by a Republican, Theodore Roosevelt, in 1906. This is the process directed by Congress in the Antiquities Act. Contrary to the assumption here, monuments are not intended to be a fisheries management tool, although many of New England’s fish stocks are in desperate need of effective fisheries management.
      The purpose of a monument designation is to protect natural areas of great scientific importance for the American people. Monument protection extends far beyond fisheries management and protects these areas from all disturbing human activities. The federal fishery management process, on the other hand, is only designed and intended to maximize the U.S. harvest of fish, not to protect areas of great scientific importance. Congress has specified two different processes for two different national objectives. While marine monuments are likely to have significant benefits for fish and, therefore, for fishermen, that is not the justification for creating a monument.
      Finally, the New England monuments that tens of thousands of people–including people and business owners who make their livelihoods from the ocean–are calling on the President to create are either largely closed to fishing or inaccessible to current fishing technologies. No fishing jobs are expected to be lost by permanently protecting these areas.
      Protecting our oceans is important as the commenter notes. In New England, the public wants action to be taken, not just more words and promises. They want the Cashes Ledge area and the coral canyons and New England seamount areas protected permanently. Meaningful actions to actually protect our ocean are way overdue.

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