President Obama last year designated nearly 5,000 square miles of ocean off Cape Cod as a "national monument," placing off limits vast stocks of fish crucial to the livelihoods of generations. A coalition of New England fishing organizations is suing. “We're losing opportunity as we speak,” one fisherman said. “It could easily be millions of dollars just this winter.”
The [Pacific Legal Foundation] complaint argues that the president was out of line because the ocean is beyond the reach of the Antiquities Act. “The statute only authorizes monuments on ‘land owned or controlled by the federal government,' said [attorney Jonathan] Wood. “And the ocean, particularly this far out, is not land and it's not owned or controlled by the federal government.” President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act into law in 1906 to protect antiquities and artifacts from looting and prevent the destruction of Native American sites in the Southwest. ... In recent decades, the law has been used mostly to bring land, rather than historic sites, under federal control.