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Clouds over the Atlantic Ocean | © Tiago Fioreze/WikiCommons
Clouds over the Atlantic Ocean | © Tiago Fioreze/WikiCommons
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The Atlantic Ocean Receives Its First Marine National Monument

Picture of Alexia Wulff
Updated: 20 December 2016
As a president who has established a reputation for wildlife, land and sea conservation, Obama continues his environmental legacy just months before he’s set to leave office – announced Thursday, the Atlantic Ocean will receive its first marine national monument. The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, located 130 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, will preserve nearly 5,000 square miles of sea canyons, ancient coral reefs, underwater mountains, and its corresponding rich marine wildlife, including endangered whales and turtles and unique species of fish. This region of the Atlantic, with projected water temperatures rising three times as fast as the global average, remains an area endangered by the threats of global climate change, and protecting it is ‘a vital step to counteract increasingly grave trends taking hold as the planet warms.’

Despite criticism and opposed fisheries, the monument will be banned from oil and gas exploration, drilling, and commercial fishing. However, efforts have been made to minimize the effect on local fishermen, including New England, where the seafood industry is the base for most businesses; Obama has allowed lobster and red crab fishermen to continue operating in the monument for seven years, as opposed to the 60 days other fishermen have to cease operations.

Obama, who grew up in Hawaii, stresses the importance of leaving ‘our children with oceans like the ones that were left to us’ and that ‘we’re going to have to act, and we’re going to have to act boldly.’ He continues to fight climate change and the impending threats imposed on our oceans and their respective ecosystems – in just eight years, President Obama has increased the amount of protected waters in the US by 20 percent, more than any other president, and ‘his action to protect this wonderland of endangered whales, seabirds, fish and corals will be lauded by future generations.’ This comes weeks after Obama’s latest monument designation, which expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument off the islands of Hawaii to 443,000 square miles – the largest marine reserve in the world.

President Obama reminds us that ‘nature’s actually resilient, if we take care to just stop actively destroying it.’