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Earthjustice Responds To Announcement of Creation of First Atlantic Marine Monument

Earthjustice applauds President Obama’s decision to protect what some call the ‘Serengeti of the Atlantic Ocean’


Today, President Obama announced the creation of the first national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean. The monument, officially named the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, would protect critical ocean habitat around a series of deep-water seamounts and canyons in Georges Bank, about 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. It would permanently protect nursery areas and help preserve habitat that has become even more critical as climate change causes the oceans to warm. The designation will protect a forest of deep-sea coral and sponges, which Peter Auster, a scientist with the University of Connecticut and the Mystic Aquarium, said resemble "a veritable Dr. Seuss garden." These coral communities provide food, spawning habitat and shelter for masses of fish and other ocean species.

The following is a statement from Trip Van Noppen, President of Earthjustice:
"President Obama has taken a vital step today by designating the first major national marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean, permanently protecting rich and unique ocean waters. In taking this step under the Antiquities Act, President Obama listened to marine biologists and other scientists who stressed the striking abundance of marine life in these irreplaceable areas, which have remained largely unaffected by human activity so far. One marine biologist said the wildlife population densities in these areas 'are like a time machine to the New England of 400 years ago.'

"Such pristine locations provide important nursery areas and protective habitat for a wide variety of life, from sperm whales, dolphins and deep sea corals to a wide variety of fish and ocean plant species. Protecting special places like this provides an especially important buffer against the impacts of climate change."

Earthjustice is a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to protecting the magnificent places, natural resources, and wildlife of this earth, and to defending the right of all people to a healthy environment. We bring about far-reaching change by enforcing and strengthening environmental laws on behalf of hundreds of organizations, coalitions and communities.