US to cooperate with Cuba on marine sanctuary

(REUTERS) - US Secretary of State John Kerry announced on Monday, Oct 5, that the US has been holding talks with Cuba on the development of a protected marine sanctuary in Cuba's Caribbean waters.

"We are working to finalize now a new sister marine protected area arrangement with Cuba in order to protect its sites so our two countries so we can collaborate on scientific research, education and sound management. We met in New York with President Castro, I met again with my counterpart, and we have agreed to meet again in Cuba in January or February when we will continue this march towards normalization but, importantly, cooperation on the oceans as well," Kerry said at the second annual Our Ocean conference in Chile's coastal town of Vina del Mar.

Kerry's announcement came hours after the world's largest marine conservation park encompassing the remote Easter Island was announced.

Kerry also told delegates that the US will create two new national marine sanctuaries at home to help tackle illegal fishing and environmental marine damage.

The White House has said the United States would launch a global initiative, called Sea Scout, to help in the fight against growing unregulated fishing and boost marine ecosystems.

Kerry said the US was investing more than a half billion dollars to promote the marine environment, including the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment to monitor and track the marine environment.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will announce steps as well to provide data and technical assistance to target illegal fishing, including a space-based monitoring sensor that will be implemented next year in Indonesia, the Philippines and three other countries.