Court Won’t Hear Fishermen Case Against Ocean Monument


The corals on Mytilus Seamount are shown off the coast of New England in the North Atlantic Ocean during the Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition in 2013. The Supreme Court ruled Monday, March 22, 2021, that it will not consider a fishing group’s attempt to challenge the creation of a large federally protected area in the Atlantic Ocean. The group sued to try to get rid of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which became the first national ocean monument in the Atlantic when President Barack Obama created it in 2016. (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research via AP)
By 
Patrick Whittle
The Associated Press

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a fishing group that challenged the creation of a large federally protected area in the Atlantic Ocean.

The group sued to try to get rid of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, which became the first national ocean monument in the Atlantic when President Barack Obama created it in 2016. The area is 5,000 square miles off New England, and it is home to fragile deep-sea corals.

The fishermen sued in federal court saying the establishment of a protected zone where they have historically fished for lobsters and crabs could hurt their livelihoods. Federal district and appellate courts ruled that the monument was created appropriately by Obama, who used the Antiquities Act to establish it.

The high court denied a request to take a look at the case. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the creation of a national monument was “of no small consequence,” but the petitioners did not meet the criteria to bring it before the Supreme Court.

Roberts also wrote that the court has never considered how such a large monument can be justified under the Antiquities Act, which President Theodore Roosevelt created more than a century ago to preserve artifacts such as Native American ruins. Roberts wrote it’s possible the court could be presented a better opportunity to consider that issue in the future.

The fishing group is let down by the court’s decision, but also feels that Roberts’ statement is a signal for others to bring similar cases, and suggests the high court “will soon resurrect meaningful limits on the President’s monument-designation power.”

The creation of the monument has been controversial and politicized from the beginning. It became a campaign issue for President Donald Trump, who moved to allow commercial fishing in the area in 2020. Trump heralded the move as a win for Maine lobstermen, although the monument is located southeast of Rhode Island and Cape Cod.

Environmentalists cheered the Supreme Court’s decision not to consider the drive against the monument. Conservation groups have for years lobbied to preserve the monument and other protected areas to try to save vulnerable underwater ecosystems.

User login

Omaha Daily Record

The Daily Record
3323 Leavenworth Street
Omaha, Nebraska
68105-1915
United States

Tele (402) 345-1303
Fax (402) 345-2351