TIME Environment

President Obama Is to Declare a New National Marine Monument Off Cape Cod

Commercial fishing in the protected area will be banned

An area two-and-a-half times the size of the Grand Canyon National Park is to become the first National Maritime Monument in the U.S. Atlantic Ocean.

The 4,913-sq.-mi. site is rich in geological and topographical wonders, and has an abundance of marine life, reports the Washington Post.

In between expansive canyons, towering underwater mountains known as seamounts rise from the sea floor to heights of over 7,700 ft. Among the many species living in the area are deep-sea corals, puffins, sharks, sea turtles, beaked whales and sperm whales.

The designation, called the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, will lie 130 miles southeast of Cape Cod. Commercial fishing as well as “other extractive activities such as mining and drilling” in the protected area is to be phased out, according to a National Geographic report.

President Obama will formally announce the project on Thursday at the Our Ocean conference, a global initiative started by his Administration. While previous U.S. Administrations have been involved in marine conservation further afield, this will be the first time in history a national marine monument has been declared in U.S. Atlantic waters.

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