Policy News

President Obama Creates the First Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean

On 15 September, 2016, President Obama designated the first marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, protecting fragile deep-sea ecosystems off the coast of New England as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.

The new national monument – which encompasses pristine underwater mountains and canyons – will provide critical protections for important ecological resources and marine species, including deep-sea coral and endangered whales and sea turtles.

Speaking to an audience at the 3rd annual Our Ocean Conference, the President said, “Over the past several decades, the nation has made great strides in its stewardship of the ocean, but the ocean faces new threats from varied uses, climate change, and related impacts. Through exploration, we continue to make new discoveries and improve our understanding of ocean ecosystems. In these waters, the Atlantic Ocean meets the continental shelf in a region of great abundance and diversity as well as stark geological relief. The waters are home to many species of deep-sea corals, fish, whales and other marine mammals.”

Just last month, President Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the coast of Hawaii by 442,781 square miles, creating the world’s largest marine reserve. Today’s designation protects 4,913 square miles of marine ecosystems with unique geological features that have been the subject of scientific exploration and discovery since the 1970s. To date, President Obama has protected more land and water than any other U.S. president in history.

To see a video of the President’s speech and learn more about this historic monument, click here.

Photo caption: "Nothing comes close to the size of a Blue Whale. We are constantly learning about the ocean and nothing gets me more excited than jumping in to experience it first-hand. I’ve been diving and surfing since I was a kid and still have problems explaining the immense beauty and degradation I have seen over the years. I want to help preserve these waters so my kids and their kids, and generations on, can enjoy what I love most. It’s my true connection to the universe." --Bo Bridges

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