President Obama will designate a section of the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Cod on Thursday as a national monument, banning commercial fishing in the area by 2023 in an effort to protect the region’s ecosystem.
The move, which the president will formally announce at the Third Annual Our Ocean Conference in Washington, won praise Wednesday from environmental groups but drew condemnation from the fishing industry.
Obama administration officials said the designation will create the first marine national monument in the Atlantic. The protected area, dubbed the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, is located approximately 130 miles off the southeast coast of the Cape.
It comprises 4,913 square miles and includes three underwater canyons deeper than the Grand Canyon, four underwater mountains known as seamounts, and many rare and endangered species such as sei whales and Kemp’s ridley turtles, administration officials said.
Under terms of the designation, red crab and lobster fisheries will have a seven-year grace period before they have to exit the monument area, and other commercial fishing operators will have 60 days to leave.