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Protecting a Marine National Monument

The Natural Resources Section defended a first of its kind marine National Monument that protects important historic and cultural resources while also preserving the environment. In Fehily v. Biden and Massachusetts Lobstermen v. Ross, the team successfully defended challenges to the designation of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, a unique and environmentally sensitive swath of ocean in the Georges Bank off the coast of New England. Seamounts is the first major marine National Monument established in the Atlantic Ocean.

Plaintiffs, commercial fisherman, challenged President Biden’s Presidential Proclamation No. 10287, issued on October 8, 2021, under the Antiquities Act. The proclamation restored a ban on commercial fishing within the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument. The Monument encompasses nearly 5,000 square miles of waters and submerged land off the coast of Cape Cod in the Atlantic Ocean and is the home undersea canyons, extinct volcanoes, and the diverse ocean ecosystems that support a wide range of marine life, including whales, sea turtles, and cold-water corals. Plaintiffs sought a court order abolishing the Monument and opening it to commercial fishing but when confronted with strong challenges to their standing to sue, plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit. NRS’ defense of this suit preserves this important, first-of-its-kind marine monument for future generations.

Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Photo by NOAA
Photo by NOAA
Updated September 28, 2023