PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — A coalition of environmental groups has sued to stop the Trump administration from rolling back Obama-era conservation measures in the Atlantic Ocean.
The groups filed their lawsuit in federal court on Wednesday in an effort to protect Northeast Canyons and Seamounts National Monument. President Donald Trump signed an order early this month to allow commercial fishing in the area, which comprises some 5,000 square miles east of Cape Cod.
Conservation Law Foundation, Center for Biological Diversity and the Natural Resources Defense Council filed the suit. They said Trump's action is unauthorized by the Antiquities Act and the Constitution.
“Preserving ocean areas like this one will be absolutely key to ensuring the resilience of our oceans in a changing climate,” said Kate Desormeau, senior attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council.
President Barack Obama designated the monument late in his second term, and it has pitted environmentalists against fishermen since. Environmentalists have said the monument protects ancient deep sea corals and endangered North Atlantic right whales.
Fishermen have said the area includes important grounds where they harvest lobsters and crabs. Trump has characterized the monument as “deeply unfair” to fishermen.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. It was unclear when it could appear before the court.