A leaked memo from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke shows he wants to go roll back some protections for national monuments designated by former President Barack Obama. That includes the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument — the first marine monument established in the Atlantic.
In his memo to the White House published in the Washington Post, Zinke says that he would not ban commercial fishing in the remote area, but would have it be administered by the New England Fisheries Management Council.
Conservation groups and others say that’s a bad idea.
“If we have some neutral and pristine ocean environments that aren’t stressed, we can study the impact of ocean acidification and climate change, and that’s going to help fishing communities. We need to know, will the ecological diversity and biodiversity help create a more stable marine environment?” says Zach Klyver, lead naturalist at the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co.
Some fishermen’s groups in New England opposed the monument’s designation last year. A spokeswoman for the fisheries council says it is working on rules that would freeze the footprint where commercial fishing is currently allowed in Atlantic slopes and canyons, including in some parts of the monument, but would not bar it altogether.