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Americans Expressing Growing Support to Keep Protections for Marine National Monuments

Americans Expressing Growing Support to Keep Protections for Marine National Monuments

Loss of Protected Areas May Contribute to Extinctions

Press Release for Immediate Release

June 8, 2017

Contact: Peter Fugazzotto, Turtle Island Restoration Network

San Francisco Bay Area – Today, Turtle Island Restoration Network, a leading marine conservation organization, increased pressure on the US Secretary of the Interior to preserve five marine national monuments that are being scrutinized, warning that removing protections may accelerate extinctions of animals in American waters.

In addition to submitting a petition with more than 6,000 signatures, Turtle Island submitted a letter signed by 37 representatives from conservation organizations and businesses.

“While most people are aware of the threat to land-based national monuments like the Bears Ears, we wanted to warn people about the consequences of not protecting our marine monuments,” said Peter Fugazzotto, Strategic Programs Director of Turtle Island.

“What’s at stake here quite simply is the survival of the world’s most endangered sea turtle, the world’s most endangered duck, and America’s most endangered seal. Removing existing protections will push these animals one step closer to extinction.”

Species at risk of extinction if these protections are removed include Kemp’s, hawksbill, and green sea turtles; Hawaiian monk seals; the Laysan duck; and fin, sei, and sperm whales.

  • The most endangered species of sea turtle: the Kemp’s ridley
  • The world’s most endangered duck: the Laysan Duck
  • America’s most endangered seal: Hawaiian monk seal
  • Three of the world’s top ten most endangered whales: Fin, sei, and sperm whales

Background

In late April 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order that calls for a review of all national monuments created or expanded in the past two decades. This includes five important marine monuments.

These monuments combined protect more than 215 million acres and provide a benefit to marine wildlife (such as endangered and threatened sea turtles, whales, and sharks), protect unique coral and geographic features, and provide habitat that allows for the rebuilding of fish stocks.

  • Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean (89.6 million acres),
    • Home to over 7,000 marine species, one quarter of which are found only in the Hawaiian Archipelago. Species protected include the threatened green turtle, the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, and the world’s most endangered duck, the Laysan duck.
  • Marianas Trench Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean (60.9 million acres),
    • The Marianas Trench is the deepest place on Earth, deeper than the height of Mount Everest.
  • Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument in the Pacific Ocean (55.6 million acres),
    • Some corals at the monument are up to 5,000 years old. Home to sea turtles, dolphins, whales, pearl oysters, giant clams, coconut crabs, large groupers, sharks, humphead wrasses, and bumphead parrotfishes.
  • Northeast Canyons & Seamounts Marine National Monument in the Atlantic Ocean (3.1 million acres),
    • The canyons and seamounts provide habitat for protected species such as endangered sperm, fin, and sei whales and Kemp’s ridley turtles.
  • Rose Atoll Marine National Monument in American Samoa (8.6 million acres).
    • Important nesting sites for the threatened green and endangered hawksbill turtles in American Samoa.

By June 10th, 2017, the Secretary will provide an interim report to the President. Public comments will be received before July 10, 2017. By August 24th, 2017, a final report will be issued to the President.

Turtle Island believes that the intent of the Executive Order is to set in place a process to undo existing environmental protections and will ultimately harm sea turtles, whales, sharks and other marine animals, and Turtle Island strongly opposes the Executive Order.

A copy of the organizational letter can be found here: https://seaturtles.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Marine-Monument-Sign-On-Letter.pdf

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