The United States and Cuba have signed a bilateral agreement to prepare for and respond to oil spills and hazardous substance pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and the Straits of Florida. The deal was signed on Monday, January 9.
According to Granma, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party, the agreement covering the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Straits will aid response efforts aimed at reducing potential damage to marine and coastal ecosystems and the health and wellbeing of the public, caused by oil spills.
Chargé d’Affaires of the U.S. Embassy in Havana Jeffrey DeLaurentis signed the agreement on behalf of the United States while Vice Minister Eduardo Rodríguez Dávila of the Ministry of Transportation signed for the Republic of Cuba.
DeLaurentis stated that the document was another step forward in joint efforts to protect the marine environment of the Florida Straits and the Gulf of Mexico.
He added that establishing a joint framework which included diplomatic, technical, and legal elements to prepare for and respond to oil spills which occur at sea, was crucial for neighbors located only 90 miles from one another.
Rodríguez said that the signing of the agreement was important for both countries, in their efforts to protect marine and coastal environments in the future.
He highlighted that the accord would lead to the development of a Coordination Plan featuring prevention, preparation, and response actions to be implemented in the case of an oil spill or other potentially hazardous events in the area.
The Cuban Foreign Ministry said that this represents a positive step forward and contribution to the process of improving relations between the two countries.
The Ministry added that the persistence of the U.S. blockade of the country continues to be the greatest obstacle to security efforts undertaken outside of Cuba’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Gulf and negatively impacts both countries’ ability to effectively respond to oil spills in the area.
Apart from the agreement with the United States, Cuba has signed bilateral or multilateral agreements with other countries located in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean region.
Offshore Energy Today Staff