The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument encompasses 4,913 square miles of canyons and seamounts off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. PHOTO COURTESY OF NOAA

First Atlantic marine national monument created

WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Barack Obama last week announced the designation of the first marine national monument in the Atlantic.

He named a 4,913-square-mile region off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass., the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. The monument is more than 130 miles off the coast of Maine.

The national monument protects several seamounts and three underwater canyons on the edge of the continental shelf, which are each deeper than the Grand Canyon.

“This area includes unique ecological resources that have long been the subject of scientific interest,” the president said in a proclamation designating the landmark.

The region is a “biodiversity hotspot and home to many rare and endangered species,” including deep-sea coral, sperm whales, fin whales, sei whales and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles.

The area will be managed by the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Interior.

The designation of the area as a national monument will protect it from being used for “developing, or producing oil and gas or minerals,” introducing new species into the monument, removing or disturbing any resources, drilling or dredging, and commercial fishing.

Commercial fishermen will have 60 days to move their operations, with the exception of lobster and red crab fishing, which will be permitted in the area until 2023.

The monument can be used for scientific exploration, recreational fishing, boating and other activities in compliance with the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

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