Obama Makes 'Epic' Environmental Move

President to designate nation's first Atlantic marine national monument
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2016 8:03 AM CDT
Obama Makes 'Epic' Environmental Move
This undated file photo released by the NOAA shows corals off the coast of New England in the North Atlantic Ocean.   (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research via AP, File)

About 150 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., lies an ecosystem teeming with puffins, whales, underwater mountains, and fissures "deeper than the Grand Canyon," reports National Geographic. That 4,913-square-mile area—an "underwater Yellowstone," per NPR—will now be protected from commercial activity as President Obama designates it the US' first Atlantic marine national monument, CNN reports. The creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which Obama is to announce Thursday, will ban drilling and mining within the monument, as well as commercial fishing. "Teddy Roosevelt had the foresight to protect the treasures of America's landscape," says Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. "With that same boldness, President Obama is conserving the crown jewels of our nation's seascape."

This "epic" designation, per the NRDC, will help the ocean resist climate change, Suh adds. Local fishermen aren't exactly pleased, saying the area's economy will suffer. "We anticipate the offshore lobster industry will be affected to the tune of about $10 million per year," a National Coalition for Fishing Communities rep tells NPR, adding the Atlantic red crab industry will also take a hit; the Washington Post says, per industry estimates, that fisheries in the area are worth about $50 million. But the administration says it took fishing's "unique role" into account when coming up with the monument, giving red crab and lobster fisheries seven years to exit; all others have just 60 days, though recreational fishing will still be OK. "We're phenomenally excited," an NRDC activist says. (The NRDC lays out its reasoning for the monument here.)

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