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cooperation agreement

Interest in sharks

There are about 100 species of sharks in Cuban waters

Albert Kok/Wikicommons There are about 100 species of sharks in Cuban watersAlbert Kok/Wikicommons 

The rapprochement between Cuba and the United States is beginning to generate scientific partnerships. At a recent international conference on oceans, representatives from both countries announced that a cooperation agreement for research and the management of marine protected areas is being negotiated. The 100 species of sharks that live in the Cuban waters of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico are one focus of interest. “Cuba is a kind of epicenter of biodiversity for sharks,” Robert Hueter tells the journal Nature. Hueter is the director of the Center for Shark Research, in Sarasota, Florida, which is working with Cuban researchers. “The time has come for us to identify common goals and work together,” says Jorge Angulo-Valdés, a researcher at the Marine Research Center of the University of Havana and visiting professor at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Some species that are endemic to the region, such as the oceanic whitetip shark and longfin mako shark, have been decimated in other regions and are threatened with extinction. The government of Cuba has established a protected area along 20% of its coastline and wants to expand it. Researchers from conservation organizations such as the Environmental Defense Fund headquartered in New York would like to inventory shark populations and are raising funds to begin the work. For example, researchers are promoting the training of fishing boat professionals to identify and register the sharks they capture.