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Open Access An evaluation of the framework for national marine environmental policies in Cuba

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A slow rate of economic development and a national commitment to sustainable development has enabled Cuba to maintain some of the best preserved marine ecosystems in the Caribbean region. Still, important environmental threats persist, at the same time that changes in the rate and magnitude of marine environmental impacts are occurring because of increased globalization, new relations between Cuba and the United States, and efforts to reform Cuba's economic model. Since Cuba lacks an explicit overarching national ocean policy, marine conservation is implemented through a combination of policy instruments. We evaluated nine major policy instruments to understand whether and how they create conditions for sustainable use and conservation of marine resources. Our evaluation is based on five key attributes identified in the literature: attention to multiple levels of ecological organization, operation at multiple spatial scales, coordination of interacting uses, adoption of precautionary and adaptive approaches, and establishment of a sound scientific basis for management. Although our evaluation suggests that Cuba's marine environmental–policy framework is relatively strong, with individual policies scoring on average 68% of the maximum for the five key attributes, we found a marked bias toward terrestrial ecosystems and issues. We also found that too little attention is paid to the inclusion of precautionary and adaptive approaches, which received a score of 22%, a significant deficiency in the face of ongoing ecological and socioeconomic changes. Cuba should develop a forward-looking national ocean policy that integrates existing and future laws and policies, as current limitations in the policy framework could undermine the country's ability to achieve its sustainability and environmental protection goals as economic development pressures grow.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Fundación Antonio Núñez Jiménez de la Naturaleza y el Hombre. K 163 apt. 36, Vedado, Havana 10400, Cuba;, Email: [email protected] 2: Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), 18 Tremont Street, Boston, Massachussets 02108 3: Marine Affairs Program, Dalhousie University, 1355 Oxford St., Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 1R2, Canada 4: Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), 301 Congress Ave. Suite 1300, Austin, Texas 78701 5: Sucursal Marlin Azulmar, Jardines de la Reina, Júcaro, Ciego de Ávila, Cuba; Centro de Investigaciones de Ecosistemas Costeros, Cayo coco, Ciego de Ávila. Cuba 6: Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), 4000 Westchase Blvd, Ste 510, Raleigh, North Carolina 27607

Publication date: April 1, 2018

This article was made available online on November 7, 2017 as a Fast Track article with title: "An evaluation of the framework for national marine environmental policies in Cuba".

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  • The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.
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