In 2016, President Obama designated the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, protecting this critically important winter breeding and foraging habitat for Atlantic Puffins and 19 other species of seabirds. In March 2017, commercial fishing groups challenged the monument’s creation because the new designation prohibited fishing within its boundaries. The lawsuit challenged whether the President had the authority to establish the monument. On October 5, a federal court ruled against the fishing industry and dismissed their complaint, confirming that the President has the authority to use the Antiquities Act to protect special places in the ocean.
Northeast Canyons and Seamounts is the only marine monument in U.S. Atlantic waters. Important forage fish species—small schooling fish that make up the diet of seabirds—spawn in and around the Monument. Allowing commercial fishing in this special place would force seabirds to travel farther for their meals, causing them to expend more energy on finding fish than they would be able to obtain from their diet. Read more about the importance of this monument.