Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Will New Relations With Cuba Impact Its Pristine Ocean Environment?

With the news yesterday from President Obama that his administration is moving to normalize relations with Cuba, many experts have argued that ending the embargo would be a boon for the island nation's economy. But whether it will be an entirely beneficial thing for Cuba's natural environment and surrounding oceans remains to be seen. In the environmental community, many organizations that have been working tirelessly on ocean conservation in the Caribbean hope that there can now be true cooperation between the U.S. and Cuba in the environmental realm.

Dr. David Guggenheim, founder of Ocean Doctor, a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and restoring our oceans through hands-on conservation, has legitimate concerns about the impacts of ending the embargo. In October, he joined Thom Hartmann on The Big Picture to talk about the potential environmental effects—good and bad—of ending the embargo.

Guggenheim readily admits the embargo was a "failed policy," but under the embargo, Cuba's environment—namely its pristine national parks and coral reefs—has thrived. He cites the fact that "Cuba has protected 25 percent of its marine waters compared to the worldwide average of one percent." So, the question going forward will be: Can Cuba maintain its pristine environment after it's opened up to the U.S. and the rest of the world?

In a five-part series on EcoWatch, Conor Kennedy explores the pristine coral reefs of the Gardens of the Queen after his visit to Cuba this summer with Ocean Doctor. In his piece, Cuba and the Embargo, Kennedy shares his hopes for normalized relations between Cuba and the U.S. that includes policies that will protect Cuba's pristine ocean ecosystem.

Cuba protects 25 percent of its marine waters compared to the worldwide average of 1 percent. Photo credit: Shutterstock

The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) would also like to see an end to the embargo because it will allow them to expand their work to promote an exchange and a dialog around critical conservation issues.

“With normalized relations come great opportunity, but also great challenges,” said Dan Whittle, director of EDF's Cuba Oceans Program and Senior Attorney.

“The doors are now open to U.S. travel and investment, and the rigor of Cuba’s environmental rules will be tested. As money begins to flow into Cuba, it is critical that we continue our work helping Cuba build upon its impressive environmental protections and double down. EDF believes the environment will fuel economic growth, but we cannot allow the environment to be sacrificed in the process.”

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

What Becomes of Cuba After the Embargo Is Lifted?

OMG I Thought You Were Dead!

Obama Permanently Protects Alaska’s Bristol Bay From Oil and Gas Development

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Moroccan patients who recovered from the novel coronavirus disease celebrate with medical staff as they leave the hospital in Sale, Morocco, on April 3, 2020. AFP / Getty Images

By Tom Duszynski

The coronavirus is certainly scary, but despite the constant reporting on total cases and a climbing death toll, the reality is that the vast majority of people who come down with COVID-19 survive it. Just as the number of cases grows, so does another number: those who have recovered.

In mid-March, the number of patients in the U.S. who had officially recovered from the virus was close to zero. That number is now in the tens of thousands and is climbing every day. But recovering from COVID-19 is more complicated than simply feeling better. Recovery involves biology, epidemiology and a little bit of bureaucracy too.

Read More Show Less
Reef scene with crinoid and fish in the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Reinhard Dirscherl / ullstein bild / Getty Images

By Elizabeth Claire Alberts

The future for the world's oceans often looks grim. Fisheries are set to collapse by 2048, according to one study, and 8 million tons of plastic pollute the ocean every year, causing considerable damage to delicate marine ecosystems. Yet a new study in Nature offers an alternative, and more optimistic view on the ocean's future: it asserts that the entire marine environment could be substantially rebuilt by 2050, if humanity is able to step up to the challenge.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A daughter touches her father's head while saying goodbye as medics prepare to transport him to Stamford Hospital on April 02, 2020 in Stamford, Connecticut. He had multiple COVID-19 symptoms. John Moore / Getty Images

Across the country, the novel coronavirus is severely affecting black people at much higher rates than whites, according to data released by several states, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
Four rolls of sourdough bread are arranged on a surface. Photo by Laura Chase de Formigny and food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post / Getty Images

By Zulfikar Abbany

Bread has been a source of basic nutrition for centuries, the holy trinity being wheat, maize and rice. It has also been the reason for a lot of innovation in science and technology, from millstones to microbiological investigations into a family of single-cell fungi called Saccharomyces.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A coral reef in Egypt's Red Sea. Tropical ocean ecosystems could see sudden biodiversity losses this decade if emissions are not reduced. Georgette Douwma / Stone / Getty Images

The biodiversity loss caused by the climate crisis will be sudden and swift, and could begin before 2030.

Read More Show Less