August 28, 2015


  • Spanish

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 Cancún, México 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, México 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 Cancún meeting brought together major institutions from both countries to establish research priorities and chart a way forward toward stronger and more comprehensive collaborative activities.

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 Cancún meeting, México was included as a full partner, making the Initiative truly trinational in scope. Subsequent meetings held in Veracruz, México (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

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.

Trinational Initiative Participants & Supporters


  • Acuario Nacional de Cuba/CITMA
  • Centro Nacional de Áreas Protegidas/CITMA
  • Centro de Investigaciones Marinas, Universidad de la Habana
  • Centro de Investigaciones Pesqueras
  • Instituto de Oceanologia/CITMA
  • Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnologia y Medio (CITMA)
  • Ministerio de la Pesca
  • Universidad de la Habana


  • Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias Marinas
  • Comisión Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas (CONANP)
  • El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)
  • Instituto Nacional de Pesca
  • Instituto Politécnico Nacional
  • Secretaria de Marina de México
  • Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (SEMARNAT)
  • Universidad Autonoma del Carmen
  • Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México
  • Universidad Veracruzana

United States of America

  • 1planet1ocean – a project of The Ocean Foundation
  • Center for International Policy
  • Chicago Zoological Society
  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Florida International University
  • Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies
  • Mote Marine Laboratory
  • National Geographic Society
  • National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • New York Botanical Garden
  • Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami
  • Sea to Shore Alliance
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • The Ocean Foundation
  • Tulane University

Generous Support of the Trinational Initiative’s Activities Provided by:

  • Bay and Paul Foundations,
  • Christopher Reynolds Foundation
  • Fondel Finance B.V.
  • Ford Foundation
  • J.M. Kaplan Fund
  • John D. & Catherine T.MacArthur Foundation
  • Marine Ventures Foundation
  • Tinker Foundation