Dear President Obama, and Senators Blumenthal, Markey, Murphy, Reed, Warren, and Whitehouse:

We, the undersigned members of the EarthEcho Youth Leadership Council, express a great deal of appreciation to you for working with your constituents and standing to protect our oceans. Representing the next generation of environmental stewards, we are grateful that you have supported ocean conservation and the President’s authority under the Antiquities Act to protect the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean.  We are grateful that you engaged with local communities and fishermen, listened to leading members of the scientific community, conservation organizations, and educational groups and concluded that protecting this undersea wonderland is necessary for the long-term sustainability of regional and international fisheries.

The Antiquities Act is an important instrument to protect national treasures used by 16 presidents since it was enacted in 1906.  President George W. Bush pioneered the use of the law to protect our oceans in 2006 by proclaiming the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

The new marine monument, a nearly 5,000 square mile area of ocean 150 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, is characterized by underwater coral canyons that plunge thousands of feet below the surface—some deeper than the Grand Canyon—and mountains extending up to 7000 feet above the ocean floor. This is a unique underwater environment, a lush research ground for new and rare species and biologically diverse eco-systems, which is crucial to the health and resilience of New England’s ocean fish and marine mammal populations. The many colorful cold-water corals that inhabit these canyons and seamounts, some of which are the size of small trees, take centuries to grow.

It is the fragility of the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts area that makes it so vulnerable to the increased fishing, drilling, and mining operations in deeper waters, and in need of protection from such encroachments. Of prime importance for people and industry in New England, this designation protects the long-term health of the region’s fishery and sustains the region’s fishing economies for the long run. In addition, by permanently protecting these resources and reducing other threats to their respective ecosystems, monument designation also improves ocean resilience in the face of climate change.

Ocean temperatures in the Northeast are projected to warm close to three times faster than the global average, and this increase in water temperature is threatening the majority of fish species in the region including salmon, lobster, and scallops. As scientists have concluded, the threats to the unique marine environment in this region warrant permanent protection to preserve intact ecosystems. We stand with the President’s decision to proclaim the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and your efforts to defend the Antiquities Act, utilizing science-based decision making to promote ocean stewardship.

As members of the newly formed Youth Leadership Council at EarthEcho International, an organization founded by Philippe and Alexandra Cousteau in honor of their father Philippe Cousteau Sr., son of legendary explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau, we pledge to continue EarthEcho International’s mission to inspire young people worldwide to act now for a sustainable future. We are dedicated to empowering youth to take action that restores and protects our water planet and the water resources that we depend on every day.

Several of us first became interested in ocean and environmental issues because we grew up near or spent significant time visiting National Marine Sanctuaries and protected areas. We are grateful to you for extending that legacy of conservation.

In the face of increasing threats from human activities, the reality of climate change and warming seas, and how these alterations affect marine life, the essential facts are clear: All life on Earth depends on healthy oceans.  Protect the ocean and we protect ourselves.

With appreciation,

The EarthEcho International Youth Leadership Council

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