Ocean Protection, Marine Protected Areas
May 18 2017

MPAs Under Attack: Feds Seek Public Input on Monuments & Sanctuaries

by Pete Stauffer

The Department of the Interior has opened a 60 day public comment period on National Monuments and Marine Sanctuaries. Please submit your comments in support of marine protected areas (MPAs) that are under threat by the current administration!

Did you know that some of our best national parks and marine protected areas are under review by the Trump administration? Yes, sadly it's true; our nation's rich heritage of protecting its most outstanding lands and waters is being challenged by a White House intent on rolling back a broad range of environmental protections.

President Donald Trump has ordered a review of National Monuments designated under the Antiquities Act by U.S. Presidents since 1996. The move jeopardizes dozens of marine monument sites, including Hawaii's Papahānaumokuākea and the Northeast Canyons & Seamounts monument that Surfrider chapters worked so hard to designate.

Ever since the days of Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. Presidents have used the Antiquities Act to permanently protect national treasures for the benefit of current and future generations. The Grand Canyon and the Statue of Liberty are among the sites designated under the century-old law. More recently, presidents of both parties, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, have used the Act to grant a legacy of natural resource protection for the nation they served. Regrettably, it appears we will now have to fight to defend both individual monuments and the Antiquities Act itself. 

The Trump administration has also launched a separate review of National Marine Sanctuaries established or expanded in the past ten years. The review process will span 180 days and could impact a number of designations valued by Surfrider members including the recently enlarged (and overwhelmingly supported by the public) Gulf of Farallones and Cordell Banks sanctuaries off California. It is not clear at this time whether a separate public comment opportunity will be opened for sanctuaries, so Surfrider recommends using the Antiquities comment docket to express support for sanctuaries as well.


The good news is that our nation's federal marine protected areas (MPAs) enjoy widespread support from communities and citizens for the enormous benefits that they provide. Science from around the world shows that MPAs are one of the most effective ways to protect and restore the ocean, including the rich diversity of animals and plants found in the marine environment. MPAs also provide important economic and social benefits through supporting coastal recreation and tourism and promoting the sustainability of fisheries.

Given the immense value that protected areas - both marine and terrestrial - provide to states and communities, it's no surpise that a bipartisan group of 325 state legislators from 44 states have sent a letter to President Trump raising strong concerns with the unprecedented action to review public lands. "Public support for protecting special places is strong, and many small communities increasingly depend on tourism and the growing outdoor recreation economy," said Washington State Senator Kevin Ranker. "The effort to eliminate or shrink national monuments risks $45 billion generated nationwide by public lands, including national monuments."

The Surfrider Foundation will continue to fight to protect our nation's outstanding marine protected areas through national advocacy and regional campaigns with partners. Please join us in this effort by submitting your comments in support of the Antiquities Act, Marine Monuments, and National Marine Sancturies before the July 10th deadline.

To access the Department of the Interior's public comment portal click here and enter "DOI-2017-0002 " in the search bar. Thank you for speaking out in support of marine monuments and sanctuaries!

Comment Section