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US and Cuba Join Forces to Protect Oceans

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) signed an agreement as the start of a cooperative management of marine protected areas in the US and Cuba

In conjunction with the National Park Service (NPS), NOAA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Cuba’s Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment (CITMA) last week.

The organisation aims to join forces in the management of marine protected areas, share scientific data and create educational programmes to promote conservation efforts.

'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 initial focus will be on Guanahacabibes National Park in Cuba, including its offshore Bank of San Antonio, the Flower Garden Banks and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuaries which is managed by NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and the Dry Tortugas and Biscayne national parks managed by the National Park Service.

The four areas have similar ecosystems with several fish species crossing the borders between Cuba and Florida, however, Cuba's reefs are generally considered to be healthier.  

'Cooperation among protected area managers of Cuba and US national park and marine sanctuaries is a great way to preserve our shared natural heritage of the wider Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico regions. After all, fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, birds and other marine life exist in ecosystems that rarely fall within maps drawn by man,' said National Park Service Director Jonathan B Jarvis.

The initiative comes after the two countries announced a joint plan to protect sharks in October. 


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