The Obama administration will create a new national monument covering 4,913 square miles not far off the New England coast.
Environmentalists are ecstatic with the announcement, but New England fishermen aren’t very happy about losing fisheries worth $50 million to their bottom-line, reports The Washington Post.
“The only user group that’s going to be negatively affected by this proposal is the fishing industry, period,” David Borden, executive director of the Atlantic Offshore Lobstermen’s Association, told the Post.
Borden noted oil tankers will still be able to traverse the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and telecommunications companies would still be able to lay cable, but fisherman can no longer trawl for crabs, lobsters squid and other delicious seafood.
The White House is giving fishermen and lobster boats who rely on the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument seven years to leave the area after regional fishing groups lobbied the administration to allow for fishing to continue in the region.
The new monument is only located 130 miles off the New England coast, and it’s been a commercial fishing hotspot for decades. Fishing companies actually supported increased marine life protections, but just wanted it deep enough so they could still fish there.
“The environmentalists consistently claim these are pristine areas, despite that there’s been fishing there for 40 years,” Borden said. “Just set the boundaries deep enough so the fishing can continue.”
The Obama administration estimates six lobster boats and 20 other fishing vessels still operate in the newly-protected area. Officials will allow recreational fishing to continue, but commercial fishing and seabed mining will be banned.
Eric Reid, who manages a fish processing plant in Rhode Island, told the Post there would be “localized economic damage,” hitting Atlantic fishing towns.
The New England monument creation comes on the tails of President Barack Obama designating the largest swath of ocean ever as a national monument in August. Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to four times its original size.
Obama used the Hawaiian monument creation to talk about how global warming could wipe out natural landmarks.
“When we protect our lands, it helps us protect the climate of the future,” Obama said at a recent Lake Tahoe environmental summit.
Obama’s added 553 million acres worth of national monuments during his time in office, more than any other U.S. president. Most of these designations have put federal waters under increased protection, according to the Post.
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