NEW BEDFORD — Backers of the Northeast U.S. fishing industry reacted with anger, chagrin and legal arguments Thursday to President Barack Obama’s declaration of a marine national monument south of Cape Cod, saying the ocean preservation effort circumvented public process and will significantly damage a key economic engine — and way of life — in the region.
“It’s all anybody’s talking about, that’s for sure,” said Jon Williams, president of Atlantic Red Crab Co. on Herman Melville Boulevard. “The general feeling is (that) it’s a sad day for the New England fishing industry.”
Obama’s designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument — in two areas also known as New England Canyons and Seamounts — permanently bars those areas from an array of commercial and industrial uses, including commercial fishing. The areas total 4,913 square miles, are more than 100 miles southeast of Cape Cod and are the first such monument in the Atlantic Ocean. The designation follows at least a year of concerns and opposition from advocates of the commercial fishing industry, who feared yet another financial hit from government regulations that already include catch limits and quotas broadly questioned by fishermen.
“Millions of dollars of lost revenue are at stake” in the monument decision, states a letter from the Washington, D.C. office of international law firm Kelley Drye & Warren.