Senator Blumenthal Calls on President Obama to Establish Marine National Monument in New England

Jennifer Felt | @jfelt18

Last week, Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut, with the support of the state’s entire congressional delegation, called on President Obama to designate the New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts as a Marine National Monument, leading our region in a critical step toward the permanent protection of this undersea treasure!

We applaud Senator Blumenthal for considering the enormous body of scientific research and public support that exists for this initiative and for his leadership in advancing this important work for the people of Connecticut, the people of New England, the people of the United States, and the people of the world. In this critical time, when we are not only demanding more of our ocean resources but also experiencing the impacts of climate change, it is imperative that we protect important areas to ensure that our ocean ecosystem – which includes its wildlife and habitats – is healthy and thriving, now and into the future.

The New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts, a region 150 miles off of Cape Cod, includes a series of canyons – some deeper than the Grand Canyon – and seamounts, extinct volcanoes rising thousands of feet from the seafloor. The areas house a high diversity of marine species, some of which are rare or only recently discovered. Thousand-year-old coral communities line the deep-sea canyon walls, and the unique geographical formations provide habitats for marine life to thrive. In the water column above, rich food sources from plankton to forage fish support whales, sharks, sea turtle, seabirds, and more.

Protecting the Canyons and Seamounts would provide refuge to a myriad of species, conserve a vital and productive ecosystem, and help fuel many parts of New England’s economy. Designating the Canyons and Seamounts as a Marine National Monument is an essential step in building a healthy future for our region’s ocean ecosystems.

Since last fall, more than 300,000 signatures in support of permanently protecting these incredible ocean treasures have been collected and delivered to the White House. It’s clear that the people want President Obama to conserve ocean areas just as we’ve protected special land areas in America for more than 110 years.

We are asking President Obama to extend his legacy of conservation to the Atlantic Ocean, where no monuments exist.

We hope that President Obama moves swiftly to make this proposal a reality; and we will continue to call on him and future administrations to build upon this progress by designating one of New England’s biodiversity hotspots, Cashes Ledge, as a Marine National Monument.

Read the full letter from the Connecticut delegation to President Obama here, and more reactions from our coalition here. Then,  to say “thank you” for his leadership!

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