Trinational Initiative

Cuba and the U.S. Find Friendship and Hope in the Gulf of Mexico

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October 18, 2010: After 50 years without formal diplomatic relations and no end to the last vestiges of the Cold War in sight, marine scientists and conservationists have taken matters into their own hands to form the Trinational Initiative for Marine Science and Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean, a unique partnership of Cuba, Mexico and the United States that is working past political barriers to make a difference for the waters we share and forging new friendships along the way. The Trinational Initiative recently held its fourth meeting in Sarasota, Florida and after nearly a decade of the Administration denying visas, more than 20 Cubans received their visas and participated in the meeting. The Ocean Doctor leads the meeting and shares its successes.

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This Week: Cuba, Mexico & the U.S. Together on the Gulf

The Trinational Initiative for Marine Science & Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico & Western Caribbean has elevated collaboration among Cuba, Mexico and the USA since 2007On 1-2 November 2007, a group of 15 Cubans and 15 Americans met in Canc?n, M?xico in a historic meeting co-organized and led by the Washington, DC-based Center for International Policy and 1planet1ocean — a project of The Ocean Foundation, in order to take joint marine research and conservation activities between the U.S. and Cuba to a new level, with a goal of establishing a framework for collaboration between Cuba, M?xico and the United States for ongoing joint scientific research and to develop a regional plan of action designed to preserve and protect our surrounding and shared waters and marine habitats.

Because of the decades-old U.S. economic embargo of Cuba, collaboration between U.S. and Cuban scientists has been difficult. Even though research is a permitted activity and U.S. scientists are allowed to travel to Cuba, the harsh logistical and political realities have prevented all but a few U.S. institutions from successful collaborative projects in Cuba. Recognizing the critical need for more scientific research in the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean ? and the key role that Cuban waters play in the ecosystem ? the Canc?n meeting brought together major institutions from both countries to establish research priorities and chart a way forward toward stronger and more comprehensive collaborative activities.

The Trinational Initiative at its Fourth Meeting at Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida USA

The Trinational Initiative at its Fourth Meeting at Mote Marine Laboratory, Sarasota, Florida USA

Cuba and the U.S. have enjoyed a long history and tradition of scientific collaboration, dating back to the 1800s. This tradition continues today, despite the challenges, but scientists from both countries recognize that there is a need to step up collaborative activities in order to more effectively address the growing research and

conservation needs of the Gulf of Mexico and Western Caribbean. It has become especially important to study these areas with a regional perspective in order to understand biological linkages and inform sound conservation policies at a regional level.

The meeting established the framework for a plan of action by recognizing the following six priorities:

  • Research and conservation of coral reefs
  • Research and conservation of sharks
  • Research and conservation of sea turtles
  • Research and conservation of marine mammals
  • Research, conservation and management of fish resources
  • Strengthening and extending the system of protected areas

Following the Canc?n meeting, M?xico was included as a full partner, making the Initiative truly trinational in scope. Subsequent meetings held in Veracruz, M?xico (March 2009), Havana, Cuba (October 2009) and Sarasota, Florida USA (September 2010) have resulted in the creation of a Trinational Plan of Action — due to be finalized in the Fall of 2010. The Plan will serve as a blueprint for trinational collaboration over the coming years and has already resulted in unprecedented levels of collaboration.

Trinational Initiative Logo

Trinational Initiative Logo

The blue, tri-wave logo symbolizes the work and collaboration of the Trinational Initiative:

  • The blue waves symbolize our work of research and conservation in the sea.
  • There are three waves, one representing each country in the Trinational Initiative.
  • The three waves are equally-sized, symbolizing that all partners are equal.
  • The three waves in perfect sync, symbolizing the unity in our collaboration together.


For more information about the Trinational Initiative for Marine Research & Conservation in the Gulf of Mexico & Western Caribbean, visit:

The latest information and publications from the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling:

Tip of the Week

It’s the “Who’s Who” of the Gulf of Mexico. Visit, a project of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Visit:

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