CLF & Coalition Partners Call for Atlantic Coast’s First Marine National Monument

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Media Contact:
Josh Block
jblock@clf.org
(617) 850-1709

Enormous outpouring of public support at New England Aquarium for permanent protection of Cashes Ledge and the New England Canyons and Seamounts

September 2, 2015 (BOSTON, MA) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) along with a diverse coalition of partners including National Geographic Society, Pew Charitable Trusts and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) held a public event today at the New England Aquarium in which they formally called for the creation of the Atlantic Coast’s first Marine National Monument. The monument will encompass the Cashes Ledge Closed Area in the Gulf of Maine and New England Canyons and Seamounts off Cape Cod, preserving a total area of 4,647 square nautical miles.

“Cashes Ledge and the Canyons and Seamounts are a rich part of New England’s legacy. Now is the time for these ocean treasures to be part of our national heritage as a Marine National Monument,” said Priscilla Brooks, CLF’s Director of Ocean Conservation. “These biodiversity hotspots offer a refuge for an astonishing array of ocean wildlife including severely depleted Atlantic cod, coldwater corals, whales, dolphins, sharks, bluefin tuna and the largest and deepest coldwater kelp forest on the Atlantic seaboard. These areas are also important laboratories to advance our understanding of the impacts of climate change on the ocean and on our communities. We need to recognize what amazing ocean treasures we have here in New England and protect them permanently for future generations.”

As the only New England-based environmental advocacy organization solely focused on regionwide conservation issues, CLF has been on the frontlines of protecting these beautiful ocean treasures for the past decade. Recognizing the need to bring a national focus to permanent protection of these Atlantic treasures, CLF partnered with a coalition of this country’s top national, regional and state environmental organizations, businesses, scientists, divers, whale watching companies, faith-based leaders and others.

Along with National Geographic Photography Fellow Brian Skerry and Brown University marine biologist, Dr. Jon Witman, CLF has sponsored several dive expeditions to Cashes Ledge to further study its unique habitats and to capture never-before-seen footage of the 500-square mile ledge through Skerry’s remarkable photographs. This work has garnered the attention of other talented photographers and videographers.

Brian Skerry commented, “Cashes Ledge is like no other place I’ve been. It is one of the last remaining hotspots of biodiversity in the entire Gulf of Maine, protected from the degradation that has befallen too many of our ocean treasures. We have this incredible jewel right in our own backyard, and it’s crucial we not wait another moment to ensure its permanent preservation.”

At the New England Aquarium on Wednesday, Skerry presented remarkable firsthand photographs from his dives to Cashes Ledge and led a panel discussion with prominent scientists on the importance of protecting these unique habitats that included Brown University marine ecologist Jon Witman, Mystic Aquarium research scientist Peter Auster, and New England Aquarium VP for Research Scott Kraus. The event also included comments from local fishermen, business owners, faith-based leaders and other members of the public, who spoke in support of monument designation for these vulnerable ocean habitats.

Making Cashes Ledge and the New England Canyons and Seamounts a Marine National Monument would permanently protect these places from commercial resource extraction, such as oil and gas drilling, bottom trawling, dredging, and sand and gravel mining. This would be the first Marine National Monument on the Atlantic Coast of the United States.

Photos and video of the area can be viewed here.

CLF experts are available for further comment.

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