April 28, 2017 — President Donald Trump’s new executive order calling for a review of national monument designations under the Antiquities Act could have implications for a marine monument created by President Barack Obama last year in a sweeping area off Cape Cod.
Obama last September announced the creation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument in a 4,913 square mile area about 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod. At the time, Gov. Charlie Baker said he was “deeply disappointed” by the designation of the first deep-sea marine national monument in the Atlantic Ocean, a move the governor viewed as undermining Massachusetts fishermen.
According to the Interior Department, Trump’s order does not strip any monument designation and also does not “loosen any environmental or conservation regulations on any land or marine areas.” It calls for the review of all declarations made since Jan. 1, 1996 that cover more than 100,000 acres or where the Interior secretary determines that the designation “was made without adequate public outreach and coordination with relevant stakeholders.”
The Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area includes three underwater canyons and four underwater mountains that are habitats for protected species, including sea turtles and endangered whales. Local critics of Obama’s September 2016 marine monument designation said it was made without sufficient public input.