Our Marine Monuments and Sanctuaries are Under Attack

Over 2 million people across the country spoke up to protect our public lands and waters from the Trump administration’s sham review of our nation’s monuments, but the attacks keep coming. Now, 11 marine monuments and sanctuaries—our nation’s blue parks—are under assault.

President Trump’s “America First Offshore Energy Executive Order” issued in April directed the Department of Commerce to review the designations and expansions of 11 national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments.

We just have until August 14 to offer our input to the Commerce Department. Now is the time to stand up for our nation’s marine monuments and sanctuaries.

There is a lot at stake. The consequences of rolling back protections for these areas would be devastating. For example, it could open the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument to oil and gas drilling, commercial fishing, deep seabed mining and other commercial exploitation. And it could open 2,278,400 acres of California’s marine sanctuaries to offshore oil drilling.

This would leave thousands of rare or endangered marine species—including sperm whales, dolphins, deep-sea coral, sea turtles and sea birds—vulnerable to pollution, drilling and overfishing. And it would destroy a critical “reservoir of resilience” against climate change while jeopardizing thriving coastal economies that depend on healthy oceans.

We must move quickly to generate an overwhelming public response to defend our nation’s oceans. Please stand up for our nation’s “blue parks.” With your help, we can show the administration that people across this country value their marine monuments and sanctuaries!
RE: Review of national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments (NOAA-NOS-2017-0066)

Dear Secretary Ross:

The country's marine national monuments are home to a tremendous diversity and richness of ocean life and are of significant scientific, historic and cultural value. Designated under the Antiquities Act, the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Papahanaumokuakea, Pacific Remote Islands, Rose Atoll, and Marianas Trench Marine National Monuments constitute the first generation of blue parks bestowed on our nation.

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Marine sanctuaries protect our valuable natural marine resources, promote sustainable tourism and outdoor recreation, and support commercial and recreational fishing businesses. Great examples are: Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank, the Channel Islands, and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries off the California coast, as well as Lake Michigan's Thunder Bay and American Samoa National Marine Sanctuaries.

Our diverse marine monuments and sanctuaries protect a rich array of ocean species and their habitats, including deep sea ecosystems considered to support some of the rarest and unique ecological communities in the world. For instance, the habitats in the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts are home to sperm whales, Atlantic puffins, and lush deep sea coral gardens, including one of the planet's oldest organisms, black corals. Other species may contain chemical compounds of biomedical importance. The Pacific monuments protect hundreds of seamounts (underwater mountains), which are hotspots of biodiversity, while places like the Marianas Trench are home to hydrothermal vents, active volcanoes, and the deepest trench on the planet.

These sensitive ecosystems are some of the least explored in the world. An attempt to roll back protections in order to allow energy and mineral exploration or commercial fishing in any one of these monuments threatens our country's scientific and cultural legacy and natural heritage.

I write to add my voice to the overwhelming body of public support strongly urging you to maintain the current boundaries and protections for all marine national monuments and sanctuaries. These unique places benefit all Americans, including our future generations.

Please consider this letter as an official public comment for Docket No. NOAA-NOS-2017-0066.


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