Using Those Final Months Well

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President Barack Obama on Midway Atoll in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, earlier this month with Marine National Monuments Superintendent Matt Brown. Obama expanded the monument using his authority under the 1906 Antiquities Act. Carolyn Kaster/AP

We are happy to see the Antiquities Act again proving so useful, so soon (the clock is ticking):

Obama To Designate First Marine National Monument In The Atlantic Ocean

During the Our Ocean conference later this morning in Washington, D.C., President Obama will establish the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean.

The area of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument is the size of Connecticut and has been called an “underwater Yellowstone” and “a deep sea Serengeti.”

Hidden beneath the Atlantic Ocean, off Cape Cod, Mass., is a submerged wonderland of lush forests, canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon, vivid corals and extinct volcanoes — all teeming with wildlife such as endangered sperm whales, sea turtles and exotic species that aren’t found anywhere else.

“We’re phenomenally excited,” says environmental activist Brad Sewall of the Natural Resources Defense Council, who says the underwater wilderness is unexploited by commercial fishing, mining or drilling.

“It’s gonna be increasingly important as climate change, its impacts increase,” Sewall says, “We need to have these protected reservoirs of resilience.”

Opponents are already challenging the move, calling it an illegal use of presidential authority.

“We don’t normally create laws in this country by the stroke of an imperial pen,” says Bob Vanasse, a spokesman for the National Coalition for Fishing Communities.

He says, “This is not only an end-run around Congress, it’s an end-run around the entire system the Congress created to protect these ocean resources.”

Vanesse says the move will seriously hurt the fishing industry.

“We anticipate the offshore lobster industry will be affected to the tune of about $10 million per year. On top of that one of most affected industries is going to be the Atlantic red crab industry. It is going to be very significantly impacted, Vanesse says.”

Senior administration officials say to mitigate the financial harm, they’re designating a smaller area than planned, and lobster and red crab fisheries have been given a seven-year grace period before they have to comply…

Read the whole story here.

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