Ninety miles south of the Florida Keys, where the Atlantic, the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico meet, Cuba retains some of the Caribbean’s most pristine natural areas.
Thanks to the country’s commitment to conservation and its unique history, including a five-decade embargo by the United States, much of its marine and coastal areas remain virtually untouched by pollution, development and tourism. In particular, Cuba's coral reefs appear to be healthier than any others in the Caribbean.
Cuba's coastal waters are vital to healthy fisheries and fishing communities along the southeastern coast of the United States. The island's 4,200 islets and keys support important commercial reef fish species, including snapper and grouper, as well as iconic marine species like sea turtles, dolphins and manatees. Prevailing ocean currents carry fish larvae from Cuba northward, benefiting U.S. fisheries and tourism activities.
But things are changing in Cuba. Tourism is growing by more than 10 percent annually and placing increased pressure on previously pristine areas. Rising sea levels and coral bleaching threaten the country's thousands of miles of coral reefs. In addition, a host of economic reforms are slowly being implemented.
The Conservancy is committed to working with Cuban scientists and conservationists to ensure the conservation and sustainable development of these ecosystems.
Sharing Knowledge Across Borders
Though limited by embargo restrictions, the Conservancy organizes technical staff exchanges, mentorships and trainings to share best conservation practices with Cuban conservation scientists.
On a larger scale, we're helping develop a tri-national conservation strategy with neighboring countries. Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic share an interconnected marine environment - as well as impacts from overfishing and pollution. Addressing shared threats and opportunities requires a coordinated effort. The Conservancy is leading a collaborative science-based project across borders to create an action plan to address threats and resource management.