Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to Marine Monument

Ocean life in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. Photo: OceanX/Bloomberg

March 22, 2021 (BOSTON, MA) – The Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument today. Two lower courts had already upheld the creation of the monument after it was challenged by fishing industry groups. Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) released the following statement in response.

“The Supreme Court correctly rejected this unfounded challenge to the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument,” said Peter Shelley, Senior Counsel at CLF. “The science supporting the need for this critical protected area—the only one along the Atlantic seaboard—has only gotten stronger and more compelling. The Biden Administration must now reinstate the ban on commercial fishing within the monument’s boundaries as soon as possible.”

In 2017, five fishing industry groups filed a lawsuit seeking to abolish the monument and open it to commercial fishing, which would devastate this important habitat. Designated in 2016, the monument protects ancient and fragile coral communities, endangered whales, and an abundance of unique and rare marine life. The monument designation protected the canyons and seamounts and their surrounding marine world from the threats of industrial fishing. The commercial fishing prohibition was lifted by President Trump by executive order in June 2020, an action CLF has challenged in court. President Biden is now reviewing President Trump’s action for purpose of reinstating the prohibition.

CLF experts are available for further comment.