Continue to protect Northeast Canyons and Seamounts | Letters to the Editor

Congressman Tom MacArthur, R-3rd of Toms River, needs to get his priorities straight.

After leading the House effort to eliminate health care for millions of Americans, including many here in New Jersey, he’s found new ways to skewer East Coast residents, hoping we don’t notice.

Last month, MacArthur led a letter sent to President Donald Trump calling for the removal of protections for one of the Atlantic Ocean’s most special places. The area protected is known as the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts. It can’t be seen from the water’s edge, but that makes it no less important to conserve.

Far offshore, at the edge of the continental shelf, the area’s sloping sea floor turns into enormous canyons, some deeper than the Grand Canyon. Here lies centuries- old, deep-sea corals and extinct underwater volcanoes that rise thousands of feet from the sea floor. Ocean wildlife gather in the surrounding currents where scores of fish provide the perfect conditions. Sea turtles, deep water sharks, and aggregations of whales and dolphins are found here. Protections to this area ensure that gas and oil development and other “extractive” activities don’t threaten this national treasure. Apparently, that matters little to MacArthur, who wrote that these “protections could eliminate commercial and recreational fishing in the entire region.”

This is a blatantly dishonest statement. The area is more than 100 miles from any shore and more than 300 miles from New Jersey. At 5,000 square miles, this area represents less than 2 percent of U.S. Atlantic waters. But here’s the kicker: The protections don’t even extend to recreational fishing, which continues just as before.

MacArthur doesn’t have his facts straight. Americans and New Jersey residents across the political spectrum support protecting our coastlines and attractive beaches for our enjoyment, but also as a source of revenue that boosts our economy by those tourism dollars. Because of special interests, MacArthur doesn’t seem to believe that it deserves to survive. He seems more interested in toeing the Washington, D.C.-based industry lobbyists’ line than in championing the interests of his district and state.

Please stand up and protect the ocean ecosystem and encourage MacArthur to do so also.

Pam Gray

Mount Laurel

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