WASHINGTON (December 21, 2016) – WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) applauded President Obama’s decision to withdraw offshore areas in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans from future oil and gas development, including the Hudson Canyon off the coast of New York.

The following statement was released by Cristián Samper, WCS President and CEO:

“WCS welcomes the president’s announcement that will put certain areas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans off-limits to offshore drilling. This is a good step toward conserving vulnerable marine species and also safeguarding the livelihoods of people who depend on marine resources, including fisheries which could be greatly impacted by fossil fuel development.

“The president has focused his action on areas that include two of WCS’s nine global seascapes; areas that we consider the most important in the world for marine life. The Arctic and the Atlantic canyons deserve the attention that they are receiving with this announcement.

“Last month, the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium led a diverse coalition of aquariums, NGO’s, local fishing groups, scientists and other stakeholders in submitting a proposal to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to designate the Hudson Canyon a National Marine Sanctuary. Today’s announcement is good news for this diverse but delicate ecosystem, and underscores the need for protection of submarine environments off the Atlantic coast.

“Marine mammals in the Atlantic are still at risk from continued seismic surveys for oil and gas, which are not prohibited by today’s decision. In April, a group of renowned marine mammal scientists sent a letter to President Obama requesting a halt in seismic survey permits due to their impacts on the endangered North Atlantic right whale and other marine life.

“WCS also is pleased that the White House announced a joint agreement with Canada to protect the economy and the environment in the Arctic, which includes discussions on low-impact shipping practices. As more shipping lanes open in the changing Arctic, the safety of marine wildlife and fragile ecosystems will depend on identifying sustainable corridors based on scientific analysis.

“WCS, through its New York-based Marine Conservation Program, is a global leader on ocean conservation. Today’s announcement is great news for ocean wildlife, our marine resources and the people who depend on them.”