SARASOTA — Cuban, Mexican and U.S. scientists expect to finalize a long-term marine research and conservation plan for the Gulf of Mexico and western Caribbean during meetings this week at Mote Marine Laboratory.
The plan will be the first agreed upon by scientists from the three nations, and comes during the fourth meeting of the Tri-national Initiative for Marine Science and Conservation of the Gulf of Mexico & Western Caribbean, officials said.
A related tri-national workshop slated for Thursday will focus on the status and management of shark fisheries throughout the Gulf, they said.
Mote scientists will join colleagues representing more than 20 organizations and government agencies from the three countries in reaching across the water for unified marine conservation.
During the last such meeting in Havana last year, scientists drafted a five-year plan to study and conserve coral reefs, marine mammals, sea turtles, shark populations and other species, and to discuss the protection of sensitive areas in the Gulf and Caribbean.
The meeting here is expected to finalize that plan. Participants are also expected to discuss the Deepwater Horizon disaster and its international implications.
“This collaboration allows us to focus on the marine ecosystem as it truly is — one interconnected system,” said David E. Guggenheim, senior fellow at The Ocean Foundation.
Mote President Kumar Mahadevan said scientists are excited to reunite with colleagues from Cuba and Mexico, as well as those from elsewhere in the U.S.
“Mote is front and center in studying human impacts to the Gulf and our decades of research experience here and our relationships in the Caribbean region will help to make this five-year plan as effective as possible,” Mahadevan said.