Press Release Jun 5, 2020

Trump Calls to Illegally Remove Protections for Marine National Monument

"Any attempt to remove protections for even one of our national monuments is illegal and a threat to all we’ve worked to protect for future generations. We will not stand by and let it happen," NPCA President and CEO Theresa Pierno. 

Washington, DC - Today, amid a global pandemic and protests around the country calling for justice for our Black communities, President Trump is continuing his anti-environment agenda by removing protections for Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument to allow commercial fishing.

The first and only marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts was originally designated by President Barack Obama in 2016. This monument protects three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon and the only four seamounts (underwater mountains) found along the Atlantic Coast. Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument supports marine wildlife and protects whales, sea turtles and seabirds and is the last place in the North Atlantic where endangered marine wildlife can swim free of industrial-scale fishing gear. No-fishing marine protected areas like this are recognized by scientists as one of the most effective tools for improving ocean ecosystems and threatened fish stocks, which in turn supports healthy national park wildlife. And a billion people, rely on viable, healthy oceans for their food and livelihoods. Additionally, America’s 88 coastal national parks are enormous tourist destinations that rely on thriving marine environments and attract more than 96 million visitors annually that nearly $7 billion in economic benefits to local economies.

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO for the National Parks Conservation Association:

“Amid a global pandemic and protests in every state across the country, this administration continues to abuse its authority. Today’s action to allow for commercial fishing within Northeast Canyons threatens the lands and waters that belong to all of us and is shameful. Any attempt to remove protections for even one of our national monuments is illegal and a threat to all we’ve worked to protect for future generations. We will not stand by and let it happen.

“Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument serves as a living laboratory, providing important scientific data about overfishing, invasive species and climate change, helping to inform management and conservation of the greater ocean ecosystem and our 88 coastal national parks. Not only is this place important to iconic national park sites in the Northeast including Acadia, Cape Cod and Fire Island National Seashores, Boston Harbor Islands and Gateway National Recreation Areas, but to the future of our planet. It supports a vibrant marine environment including cod, tuna, sea turtles, sharks, seabirds and endangered marine mammals like North Atlantic right whales.

“Now is the time when we should be protecting more of our oceans and public lands and waters, not less. We’ll continue to fight to ensure this place, and all of our national monuments, remain protected as they were intended.”

Background: National monuments are areas within our landscapes and oceans of natural, historical or cultural value that Presidents – Republican and Democrat – have permanently protected through the Antiquities Act. To dismantle this law and these places that are safeguarded is a betrayal to the American people and lands and waters we’ve spent generations protecting. Similarly, his illegal action to remove more than 1 million acres from Bears Ears National Monument in Utah, is part of a pending lawsuit from numerous groups including NPCA and awaiting judgement in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, was done so to open the landscape to destructive oil and gas development and makes the site vulnerable to looting of invaluable Native American cultural resources. And only Congress has the authority to change monument protections or boundaries.

Over the last three and half years, the Trump Administration has instituted policies to gut environmental laws and remove protections for public lands and waters that belong to all of us, including laws that protect the air we breathe and water we drink, while also cutting public input out of the decision-making process.

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.