PORTLAND, Maine -- Interior Secretary Deb Haaland recommended that President Biden reinstate full protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument off the coast of New England, according to reports. During a trip to Bangor, ME last year, former President Donald Trump announced his plan to strip protections from the monument.
Located Southeast of Cape Cod, where the continental shelf drops off into the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, the monument includes canyons as deep as the Grand Canyon and underwater mountains higher than any east of the Rockies. The waters above teem with ocean wildlife—including sea turtles, seabirds, and what scientists believe to be the highest diversity of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the North Atlantic.
Sec. Haaland also reportedly advised fully restoring the original boundaries of Utah’s Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, both of which had also been downsized or weakened by former President Trump. His actions were an unprecedented use of the Antiquities Act, which gives the president the power to create national monuments.
In response, Environment Maine state director Anya Fetcher issued the following statement:
“The time is right for President Biden to follow through on his campaign promises and take important action aimed at protecting our lands and waters. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, one of America’s most unique and diverse marine ecosystems, is a perfect place to start. President Obama made the right decision when he established the monument, but President Trump took a decidedly wrong turn when he stripped protections, putting deep sea coral and marine mammals at risk of habitat degradation and fishing gear entanglements.
“As the public has shown over and over, removing protections from such remarkable places is not what the vast majority of Americans want. Mainers - and all Americans - understand and appreciate the overwhelming value in conserving our natural heritage and safeguarding it for future generations.
“Clear-headed decision making right now will safeguard critical areas for endangered species like fin whales and sei whales. We urge President Biden to heed Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s recommendation to restore full protections to the monument.”