President Trump announced Friday that he will remove protections on the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, a nearly 5,000-square-mile area southeast of Cape Cod that is home to endangered whales and sea turtles, and will open the area up to commercial fishing.

In reaction to the announcement, Phil Francis, chair of the coalition to project America’s National Parks, issued the following statement:

“The Trump Administration’s latest attack on America’s protected spaces, opening up our national marine monuments to industrial fishing, is a travesty that will cause a massive disruption and irreparable damage to native marine life and endangered species in the area, dismantle the protections conservationists have been working for years to sustain, and jeopardize the ability to foster sustainability and restore ecosystems that were devastated by overfishing.

“An attack on one national monument is an attack on them all and puts in jeopardy the many types of public lands and waters that symbolize America’s love for its cultural heritage and great outdoors. Our national parks and monuments – including Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument – must be protected.

“As an organization representing former and retired National Park Service (NPS) employees, with over 40,000 years of collective experience in protecting some of our country’s most fragile and treasured spaces, we know the effects that industrial use can have on places like the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. We strongly condemn this decision, and its timing – coming in the midst of a global pandemic and protests across the world in support of Black lives.”

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