The First Ever Marine National Monument

The relatively small rectangle of ocean selected by President Obama lies along the continental shelf and houses a variety of coral, sharks, sea turtles, seabirds and marine mammals such as beaked whales that thrive in deeper waters.

So what is so important about this new monument? The United States controls more ocean than any other nation. We have so much marine life under our grasp, but were previously not doing enough to protect it. With the official opening of this monument, we are taking the first steps in the right direction to truly make a difference in the world.

In the past generation, our world as a whole has changed drastically. Due to this change, not only has Obama established a safe space for preservation, but there is now a real concern for the well being of nature being put forth. President Obama announced, “All those things are happening now [the changes in the environment]. They've been happening for a long time. If we are going to leave our children with oceans like the ones that were left to us, we're going to have to act. We're going to have to act boldly.”

The delicate life that resides on the ocean floor is worth exploring and protecting. However, despite the successful fishing economy in the Cape Cod area, restrictions on fishing and hunting had to be enforced around the area. Many commercial fishers will be prohibited from fishing in that continental shelf area, and the crab and lobster trapping companies that utilized this area beforehand will get a seven year exemption. Mining and drilling companies will eventually be driven away as well, as to further protect the mountainous and canyon draped underwater geography. This promotes a booming recovery in the natural food web as we remove the human interference.

Jane Lubchenco, the former head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Department during Obama’s first term, argues that the President deserves more credit for expanding the national protections for federal waters. As stated by The Washington Post writer Juliet Eilperin, “Obama has increased the amount of federal waters under strong protection from 6 percent to 25.5 percent.” With that much increase in federal safety waters, it is only fitting that the opening of the first ever marine national monument be announced this year, as Obama’s terms in office are coming to a close.

There is so much more to explore and learn from the quick, darting, shimmering fish and waving coral lying just hours from our coasts, yet we continue to neglect the causes. Maybe this new marine monument will encourage us to heed the warning signs that nature is sending. The world is changing and it is crucial that we either gain control or accept the consequences. Obama has made it clear that what happens next is just as important as what ends up happening. We must take the next step to help not only ourselves, but to help the generations to come as well.