Ocean Protection, Marine Protected Areas
July 23 2017

Save our Sanctuaries & Monuments! Federal Waters Targeted for Oil & Gas Extraction

by Katie Day and Pete Stauffer

The Department of Commerce has extended the public comment opportunity on National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine Monuments. Please submit your comments by August 15th in support of federal marine protected areas (MPAs) that are under threat! 

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. This most recent offense is the review of some of the nation’s most sensitive and biologically diverse marine protected areas in order to expand the unnecessary and dangerous America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.

President Trump has ordered a review of National Marine Sanctuaries and National Monuments designated or expanded since 2007. The move is part of a larger attack on our nation's public lands and waters and directly threatens eleven federal marine protected areas. Among these are four sanctuaries in California: Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank, Monterey Bay, and Channel Islands. To learn more please visit our California Save Our Marine Sanctuary campaign webpage

Also under threat are five marine monuments including Hawaii's Papahānaumokuākea and the Northeast Canyons & Seamounts that Surfrider chapters worked so hard to designate. Aside from the sites themselves, the order seeks to undermine the Antiquities Act of 1906 that Presidents since Theodore Rooselvelt have used to protect some our nation's most outstanding public lands and waters.  

Science from around the world shows that protected areas are one of the most effective ways to protect and restore ecological systems, including the rich diversity of animals and plants found in the marine environment. Protected areas also provide important economic and social benefits through supporting recreation, tourism, sustainable fisheries, and other industries dependent on healthy ecosystems.

Given the immense value that marine protected areas and federal monuments provide to states and communities, it's no surprise 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 coalition and community partners. Please join us in this effort by submitting your comments in support of Marine Monuments and sanctuaries before the August 15th deadline.

A public comment period is now open, and you can participate quickly and add your personal response by visiting saveourmarinesanctuaries.org or going directly to the Federal Register (please note this is separate from the Department of Interior's recent comment period that closed on July 10th). Suggested points to include are listed below. Thank you for speaking out in support of national marine protected areas!

  • You SUPPORT the continued protection of these National Monuments and marine sanctuaries in their current capacities.
  • You do not support offshore oil, gas, or mineral extraction in designated marine national monuments or sanctuaries.
  • Marine monuments and sanctuaries protect extremely sensitive, rare, and biologically diverse ecosystems, thus providing significant historic and scientific interest.
  • Protection of monuments and sanctuaries allows for added public use and enjoyment of areas both within and outside of monument boundaries, especially for recreational purposes.
  • Monuments and sanctuaries provide continued economic benefits to local states, tribes, and communities through increased tourism, recreation, and long-term fisheries management.
  • As a public constituent, you feel that there was adequate public outreach and coordination during their designation and expansion.
  • Protection of these magnificent treasures ignites a strong sense of national pride, and promotes domestic travel and tourism within our country.
  • Any personal stories about why you value a national marine sanctuary or monument.