Surfrider is advocating for a new management plan for the Northeast Canyons & Seamounts Marine National Monument to ensure sufficient protections for this special place.
Located 130 miles off the coast of New England, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument encompasses some of the most productive and sensitive ocean habitat in the Atlantic Ocean. The Monument includes three undersea canyons and four seamounts, and is home to deep sea corals, endangered whales, sea turtles, and many species of fish and marine life. On September 15, 2016, President Barack Obama designated Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, recognizing the unique biodiversity in the waters off the coast of New England. However, in 2020, the Trump administration issued an executive order to weaken protections for the Monument, including removing commercial fishing from the list of prohibited activities.
To restore protections for this special designation, Surfrider is working with our coalition partners to advocate for a new management plan that includes the original management provisions delineated in the Presidential Proclamations of 2016 and 2021. In September, 2023, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and NOAA Fisheries released a Draft Management Plan and environmental assessment for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, as directed by Presidential Proclamations 9496 and 10287. The draft management plan and proposed regulations restores prohibitions on commercial fishing that were included in the original designation document. In the fall of 2023, the agencies held a public comment period to collect public input on the draft management plan that expired on October 25, 2023.
Surfrider Foundation is actively working to support the federal government's plans to restore protections for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine Monument. We have conducted outreach to our Northeast Chapter Network on the issue and the opportunity to participate in the public comment period. Our Northeast Regional Manager, Isabella DeFrancesco, delivered public testimony in support of the Draft Management Plan during an official public meeting. We educated our supporters and the public through our Instagram page @surfridernortheast and other social media channels. Finally, Surfrider submitted a comment letter to USFW and NOAA on behalf of our U.S. network (see here).
While the official public comment period has ended, Surfrider will continue to urge the USFWS and NOAA Fisheries to adopt the new management plan. Through our ongoing engagement with the Biden Administration and our participation in the Federal Marine and Coastal Area-Based Management Advisory Committee, we will push to see the Monument's regulations restored by the middle of 2024. Surfrider will also continue our national advocacy to strengthen federal marine protected areas (MPAs), including National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments, through engagement with NOAA, USFWW, the Biden administration and Congress.
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