(HAVANA—November 18, 2015) Officials from the United States and Cuba today are signing a historic agreement that brings the countries together to protect vital marine ecosystems from rising manmade threats such as overfishing, habitat damage and climate change. The agreement, which was first announced in early October at the Our Ocean 2015 conference in Chile, commits the two countries to collaborating on science, outreach and education regarding “sister” marine protected areas.
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 Guanahacabibes National Park and its offshore San Antonio Bank in Cuba, the Flower Garden Banks and Florida Keys National Sanctuaries in the United States along with the Dry Tortugas and Biscayne National Parks.
Environmental Defense Fund has been working with Cuban officials, scientists and conservationists for more than a decade on a range of environmental issues including the establishment of an island-wide network of marine protected areas. In 2010, EDF began facilitating a dialogue between officials and scientists from the United States and Cuba that laid the foundation for today’s agreement.
“This is a major achievement for both the United States and Cuba and a huge win for the ocean. 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.
“Ocean waters and living resources do not recognize political borders. 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.”
· Daniel Whittle, Senior Director, EDF Cuba Program
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