Cuba and U.S. Agree to Work Together to Protect Marine Life

By Victoria Burnett, The New York Times, October 5, 2015

MEXICO CITY — The Cuban and American governments have agreed to work hand in hand to protect marine life in the seas that join their countries, a move that represents the first environmental dividend of a thaw between the two Cold War foes.

Under an agreement announced Monday at an oceans conference in Valparaíso, Chile, government agencies from Cuba and the United States are to map marine life in protected areas in the Florida Straits and Gulf of Mexico and compile an inventory of shared species.

Dan Whittle, senior attorney for the Environmental Defense Fund, an American nonprofit organization that works closely with Cuba on marine conservation, said United States government scientists were interested in studying Cuba’s pristine reefs for clues about how to recover American reefs. Cuban and American scientists could now share information on, say, the endangered oceanic whitetip shark, he said, or on the behavior of invasive species.

The agreement could also clear the way for American philanthropists who are eager to fund Cuban conservation efforts but have been wary of political pitfalls, Mr. Whittle said.

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