New whale sanctuary for Caribbean

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Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) is optimistic that endangered humpback whales in the Wider Caribbean will be better protected under a new agreement signed by the Dominican Republic’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources and the United States’ National Marine Sanctuary Program.

The agreement established the world’s first sister sanctuary linkage protecting an endangered migratory marine mammal species on both ends of its range.

“Both countries are Parties to SPAW (Protocol concerning Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife) and with these type of initiatives manifest the true spirit of regional cooperation … to ensure the conservation of (whales and other) migratory endangered species,” said Alessandra Vanzella-Khouri, SPAW Programme Officer, located at the CEP headquarters in Kingston, Jamaica.

“This conservation action is important as a model for the Wider Caribbean Region,” said Dr. Maximiliano Puig, the Dominican Minister of Environment and Natural Resources. “Our sanctuary was the first marine mammal sanctuary established in the region, and it continues to lead by example. Our broadest mandate is to engender a new discussion in our society about the importance of marine mammals, the oceans in which they live and our responsibility as ocean stewards.”

The two sister sanctuaries, some 1,500 miles apart, provide critical support for the same humpback whale population of around 900 whales. These whales spend spring and summer in the rich feeding grounds of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (SBNMS) off the coast of Massachusetts before heading to the warmer waters of the Santuario de Mam