Statement on Trump Administration’s rollback of protections for Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument

BOSTON, MASS. (June 5, 2020) – The New England Aquarium strongly denounces the Trump Administration’s announcement today to roll back protections of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.

The Trump Administration once again has chosen a moment of national vulnerability to take aim at the environment, this time by rolling back protections of the only marine national monument in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean. This well-honed political diversion has not escaped our attention.

In 2016, with support from the New England Aquarium, President Obama designated the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument to set aside and protect 4,900 square miles of marine life in underwater canyons and seamounts 130 miles off the Massachusetts coastline. Hundreds of different species live in these protected waters, including colorful and long-lived deep-sea corals, rare fish, elusive octopus, and charismatic whales and dolphins.

Scientists at the New England Aquarium conduct aerial surveys of the Monument to document the extraordinary diversity of animals at the surface. During those flights, our scientists have observed pods of dolphins 1,000 strong feeding on the rich abundance of squid at the surface. Most recently, two blue whales were spotted there for the first time. Our research at the surface, together with our partners’ research under the water, shows us what a special place this is.

We know the Monument is popular: 78 percent of Massachusetts and Rhode Island residents support protections for canyons, seamounts, and deep-sea corals—like those found in the monument.

We know that the Monument has not negatively impacted fisheries in the northeast. Those fishermen who were fishing in the Monument before its designation are still allowed to fish there today. Landings of economically-important species have increased since 2016, not decreased.

We know that strong protections of marine and terrestrial environments are needed if we are to nurture a vibrant and sustainable ocean for future generations.

To ensure that the ocean continues to be healthy and provide for all life on Earth, it is critically important that we set aside places that provide a safe environment for wildlife in the ocean to thrive. Ocean use must and can balance economic outcomes with sustainability. Today’s announcement is disappointing and devastating because of its blatant lack of balance.

Rolling back protections is the wrong decision. The New England Aquarium will continue to fight on behalf of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and invites all to do the same.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Pam Bechtold Snyder, psnyder@neaq.org; 617-686-5068