Under Executive Order 13795 to review all designations and expansions of National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments established since April 28, 2007, the Trump administration is considering either the rollback or elimination of up to eleven marine sanctuaries as part of its “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.“
Seven marine sanctuaries were expanded since April 28, 2007 and are under consideration for reduction (rollback to pre-2007 area):
- Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, HI: In 2016, Obama expanded the protection of Hawaii’s northwestern coral reefs to become the world’s largest marine reserve. Just one year later, the reserve’s status is under threat by the new administration.
- American Samoa: In 2012, Obama expanded this national marine sanctuary by 8.7 million acres.
- Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, CA: Expanded by George W Bush in 2008.
- Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries, CA: Obama more than doubled the size of these two Northern California reserves in 2015.
- Channel Islands, CA: Expanded by Bush.
- Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, MI: Expanded by Obama.
Four marine sanctuaries were added during this time period and may be completely eliminated:
- Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument: This 55 million acre marine reserve was established by Bush in 2009 and expanded by Obama in 2014 to protect South Pacific islands under USA management (e.g. Wake Island, Johnston Atoll, Palmyra Atoll).
- Rose Atoll Marine National Monument: President Bush set aside 8 million acres east of American Samoa to protect giant clams, corals, and sharks.
- Marianas Trench Marine National Monument: One of the last acts of President George W. Bush. This reserve protects Guam and the Mariana Islands.
- Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument: Obama designated 3.1 million acres of New England coldwater coral reefs, sea mounts, sperm whales habitat.
What you can do
Whatever your other political views may be, it is our hope we all agree that marine conservation is important and not a partisan issue. Time and again, studies have shown marine reserves work. Removing federal protection for huge swathes of precious ecosystems would represent a HUGE step backwards for conservation.
We publish this news as a call to action. The Federal Register is now seeking public comment until July 26, 2017. You may post your comments at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NOAA-NOS-2017-0066. At the time of this publication, there are approximately 4,400 comments voicing nearly unanimous disapproval for this executive order.
Make your voice heard, too!