Marine Biodiversity Across Borders: Challenges and Solutions

Summary: Working together to better understand and manage the marine biodiversity that is shared across the Latin American and Caribbean region

Dr. Michelle Cazabon-Mannette. SpeSeas. Trinidad and Tobago

Co-organiser 1: FARAHNAZ SOLOMON

Co-organiser 2: KELLY KINGON


Description: Marine biodiversity is critical to sustaining the ecosystems and economies of most countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The oceans and coasts support a rich array of species and habitats that are important for food security, coastal protection, water quality, carbon sequestration, recreation and tourism. Individually, each country supports a unique suite of biodiversity, however a large portion of marine populations are shared within and between the Caribbean Sea, Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, and are therefore subject to a diverse array of policies and management plans throughout their life cycle. Various human activities (e.g. oil and gas extraction, fisheries, tourism, pollution, climate change) threaten coastal and marine ecosystems in each country and furthermore, many of these threats also go beyond borders. These combined threats and pressures negatively impact sensitive species (e.g. sea turtles and cetaceans) and important ecosystems (e.g. mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs and deep-sea communities). A transboundary approach to management in the region is therefore necessary to address these threats to biodiversity. This session will bring together marine managers, policymakers, scientists and resource users to foster dialogue and initiate collaboration and knowledge sharing between countries and stakeholders. The lessons learned through our shared experiences in developing and implementing management, legislation, governance, and conducting research will be invaluable moving forward to develop appropriate strategies for large marine ecosystem management across borders. It is only through combined efforts on the part of all stakeholders from the different countries that regional environmental plans to aid in the conservation of all facets of biodiversity can be achieved.


Keywords: ocean management, connectivity, transboundary governance, transient marine species, species dispersal


Justification: Our proposed symposium puts a marine spin on the theme “Strengthening Conservation Connections Between the Caribbean and the Americas” of this conference. The biodiversity of marine species in the waters of the Caribbean and Latin America fall under the national jurisdictions of a range of countries as these populations do not follow political boundaries. Many species move across these borders during their lives, and the threats to biodiversity are often regional as well, making effective management difficult. A transboundary approach to management in the region is therefore necessary. In order to conserve biodiversity that moves beyond each nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), dialogue between regional stakeholders is needed, as well as scientific research that can be used to guide legislation and effect good governance and management at a regional scale. Given how few transboundary measures currently exist within Latin America and the Caribbean, we hope this symposium will be a step in the right direction toward marine conservation at a more relevant scale.


Symposium Length: 12 - Presentations total


Presentation 1: Southern Caribbean deep sea




Presentation 2: Hammerhead shark connectivity


University of Trinidad and Tobago


Presentation 3: Regional flying-fish management plan


University of Trinidad and Tobago


Presentation 4: The Caribbean legal seascape for shared marine living resources: A review of international obligations to cooperate in conservation and management of commercial and threatened species, examples of implementation, and suggestions for the course forward


Marine and Environmental Law Institute, Dalhousie University


Presentation 5: An analysis of the ecological impacts of the lionfish invasion in the Caribbean


University of Southampton


Presentation 6: Blue Halo Initiative

Blue Halo Initiative’s work in the Caribbean



Presentation 7: Caribbean Marine Atlas Project - use of a regional spatial data portal in conservation/environmental management


Institute of Marine Affairs


Additional information: