Proposals to create a vast national marine preserve off the New England coast are generating debate among commercial fishermen, recreational anglers, environmentalists, multistate bureaucrats and politicians.
Environmental groups are calling on President Barack Obama to use his executive powers to establish a 6,180-square-mile New England Coral Canyons and Seamounts national monument.
They say it would protect a unique and ecologically critical marine environment lying about 150 miles off New England's shores.
If Obama heeds those calls, virtually all fishing and commercial operations, such as oil and undersea mining, would be banned within the new national preserve, according to the Hartford Courant.
The controversy has exposed deep fault lines between commercial fishermen fiercely opposed to new federal restrictions on their industry and many recreational anglers who argue that the preserve would benefit fishing in the region.
The leaders of eight U.S. regional fisheries management councils have written to Obama warning that creation of the proposed marine monument would ignore federal mandates to "achieve optimum yield from the nation's fishery resources and may negatively impact jobs and recreational opportunities.”