March 7, 2017

New England Fishermen Challenge Obama’s Marine National Monument

By New England Fishermen Challenge Obama’s Marine National Monument

PLF’s Harold Johnson interviews PLF attorney Jonathan Wood and Beth Casoni of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. Casoni is one Wood’s several clients in the fishing industry that is challenging the Obama Administrations use of the Antiquities Act to designate vast swaths of ocean as a national monument.

“By declaring over 5,000 square miles of ocean — an area the size of Connecticut — to be a national monument, President Obama set this entire area off-limits to most fishing immediately, with what remains of fishing opportunities to be phased out over the next few years,” said PLF attorney Jonathan Wood. “This illegal, unilateral presidential action threatens economic distress for individuals and families who make their living through fishing, and for New England communities that rely on a vibrant fishing industry.”

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Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association v. Ross

The Antiquities Act of 1906 authorizes the President to declare monuments on “land owned or controlled by the Federal government” to protect their historic or scientific value. On his way out of office, President Obama used this power to declare a 5,000 square mile area of the ocean to be the Northeast Canyons and Seamount Marine National Monument. Because the ocean is not “land owned or controlled by the Federal government,” PLF represents a coalition of fishing industry associations in a lawsuit challenging this abuse of the statute, which renders off-limits areas long used for sustainable commercial fishing near New England and the East Coast.

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