A new environmental agreement
Officials from Cuba and the United States have signed a landmark agreement to protect marine ecosystems from rising manmade threats.
The agreement, first announced in October, commits Cuba and the U.S. to collaborate on science, outreach and education regarding ‘sister’ marine protected areas,” according to the Environmental Defense Fund, which has been working with Cuban officials and scientists for more than a decade on environmental issues.
“This is a major achievement for both the United States and Cuba and a huge win for the ocean,” said Daniel Whittle, senior director at EDF’s Cuba Program. “These parks are home to some of the most abundant and healthy coral reefs in the hemisphere and provide habitat for shallow water reef fish and invertebrates, manta rays and sharks.”
Scientists and other officials from the United States’ National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Park Service and Cuba’s National Center for Protected Areas will initially focus their efforts on Cuba’s Guanahacabibes National Park and the country’s offshore San Antonio Bank, along with several areas in the United States including the Florida Keys National Sanctuaries.
Above: the San Antonio Bank
“We recognize we all share the same ocean and face the same challenges of understanding, managing, and conserving critical marine resources for future generations,” said Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA administrator, who was in Cuba for the signing of the agreement. “The opportunity for international cooperation in marine conservation is invaluable and this moves us closer to ensuring a healthy and productive ocean for everyone.”
The memorandum of understanding also includes a program aimed at fostering conservation and the understanding of natural marine resources in both countries.
“Ocean waters and living resources do not recognize political borders,” Whittle said. “We must work together to learn more about marine life and how we can best protect it for the future. EDF is proud of the work we have done to increase scientific collaboration between the United States and Cuba. We all benefit by working together.”
— Cuba Journal staff