Fishing Groups Hoping for Changes to Undersea National Monuments

FILE – This undated file photo released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made during the Northeast U.S. Canyons Expedition 2013, shows corals on Mytilus Seamount off the coast of New England in the North Atlantic Ocean. (NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research via AP, File)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Trump Administration may be making some changes to undersea national monuments, but the details remain a mystery.

Former President Barack Obama designated an area off Cape Cod as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument last year.

Many fishermen have said it limits their ability to harvest valuable species such as swordfish, lobsters, crabs and squid.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Thursday the monument will remain, but also says it could be altered. He hasn’t yet offered more specifics.

That left people on all sides of the contentious debate clinging to only shreds of information and anxiously waiting for more details.

Zinke told The Associated Press that none of the 27 monuments will be rescinded.

But he said he would push for boundary changes on a “handful” and left open the possibility of allowing drilling, mining or other industries on the sites.

The White House said only that it received Zinke’s recommendations Thursday, a deadline set months ago.

Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association executive director Beth Casoni says she would like to see the monument redefined as the size of “a postage stamp.”

The designation covers nearly 5,000 square miles off the coast of New England.

The area is about 150 miles southeast of Cape Cod and includes five underwater canyons, some deeper than the Grand Canyon.

It also includes four underwater mountains, known as “seamounts” that rise up to 7,000 feet above the ocean floor, higher than any mountain east of the Rockies.

Supporters say that the monument helps sustain important species and reduce the toll of climate change.

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