Biden Restores Monument Protections

Reverses Trump’s unlawful rollback of Northeast Canyons and Seamounts safeguards

Photo: NOAA Atlantic Exploration, Canyons and Seamounts.

October 7, 2021 (BOSTON, MA) – President Biden has announced plans to fully restore protections to several national monuments, including the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of New England. Former President Trump opened the monument to commercial fishing, which threatened to devastate the fragile marine life that call the area home. Biden’s action will restore the ban on fishing and ensure that the monument remains a permanently protected area.

Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and several other experts released the following statements in response.

“President Biden’s announcement is a welcome relief after Trump threw science out the window and slashed protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts,” said Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel at CLF. “Restoring these commonsense safeguards will have an immeasurable impact on species that call the monument home and will result in a healthier ocean overall. With our oceans in peril from human impacts and the climate crisis, it’s time to protect more areas, not less.”

The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts is the only national monument in Atlantic waters, representing about 1.5% of the ocean. The area is home to more than a thousand species of marine life, including 70 species of highly vulnerable corals that can be up to thousands of years old.

“The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area needs the permanent protection that only a monument can provide to safeguard the biodiversity as well as fragile and vulnerable resources within the area,” said Rip Cunningham, Conservation Editor at Salt Water Sportsman and former Chair of the New England Fishery Management Council. “President Biden’s action restores the protections that this area requires and supports the future health of these resources.”

“A healthy ocean is vital for animals, people, and the planet,” said Melissa Gates, Northeast Regional Manager, Surfrider Foundation. “Restoring full protections to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument will help restore the ocean ecosystem and protect its intrinsic values while also safeguarding human communities, benefiting coastal recreation and tourism, the ocean economy, the ocean, and all life on Earth—now and into the future.”

“Protected areas like the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument help support thriving whale populations and coastal tourism,” said Jen Kennedy, Executive Director, Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. “When children experience the ocean on a whale watch, they are excited to learn about the monument. President Biden’s action to restore protections to the monument is important for coastal businesses, science education, and inspiring people to care about our ocean.”

“The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is a unique, ecologically valuable, and irreplaceable marine area that deserves to be protected from human impacts,” said Matt McKenzie, Professor of History and Maritime Studies, University of Connecticut and former member of the New England Fishery Management Council. By restoring the protections of this monument, President Biden preserves our natural heritage for generations to come.” 

“As someone who spends many hours on the water, I know that providing refuge for the marine life we depend on for food and tourism will help our coastal communities in the long run,” said R. Zack Klyver, Co-founder and Science Director, Blue Planet Strategies. “I thank President Biden for restoring protections to this monument. Our children deserve to see what a healthy ocean looks like: seabirds, fish, and marine mammals in great abundance.

Experts are available for further comment.