Protecting the Crown Jewel of the Caribbean: Cuba's Marine Ecosystems

Saturday, February 18, 2017: 10:00 AM-11:30 AM
Room 313 (Hynes Convention Center)
Cuba has some of the healthiest coastal ecosystems in the Caribbean, with largely intact coastal mangroves and many of the best coral reefs in the region. Both of these ecosystems support unique species assemblages, attracting tourists from around the world and supporting one of the most valuable sectors of Cuba's economy. The 2014 normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba is expected to increase tourism, foreign direct investments, and development pressures, potentially having significant impacts on these systems. Normalization, however, also provides opportunities for collaborative science between Cuba and the U.S., as evidenced by announcements of joint research projects on marine protected areas, sharks, and marine management, among others. This session focuses on the state of Cuban marine ecosystems and the socioeconomic levers that affect those ecosystems, exploring how science can inform U.S. and Cuban policies. In doing so, speakers highlight pioneering Cuban conservation work that has protected biodiversity, human welfare, and marine ecosystems. They examine how science can inform policy choices around coastal development, investments, fisheries management, and the associated impacts on coastal ecosystems and the livelihoods they support. The session also explores how researchers can work together under different political systems to manage common resources.
Joe Roman, University of Vermont
Dan Whittle, Environmental Defense Fund
Patricia González Díaz, University of Havana
The State of Cuba’s Coral Reefs
Fabián Pina Amargós, Coastal Ecosystems Research Center
Big Is Beautiful: Marine Protected Areas, Sharks, and Groupers
Jorge Angulo Valdés, University of Florida
Science Diplomacy: Can Marine Management Bridge Political Systems?
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