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Concern over U.S gas spill damaging environment of Cuba holidays

  • 20-May-10 14:26
  • Cuba
  • Holiday Industry

Cuba is keeping a close eye on the U.S oil spill in fear the spillage might continue spreading and reach their enviromentally protected shores. Environmentalists are hoping to engage in talks with Obama so that the US can assume their responsibility.

Concern over U.S gas spill damaging environment of Cuba holidays

There is growing concern over Cuba holidays and the negative effect the recent U.S oil spillage may have on the country's protected ecosystems. At present there is much worry that the sprawling oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico may reach Cuba's pristine coasts, which boast one of the Caribbean's most virginal coral reefs, thick mangroves and nesting areas for green sea turtles. As a result, the appeal of Cuba holidays in these protected natural zones might suffer the conseequences. Cuban government officials called on U.S. oceanographers looking for assistance last week, the scientists said, and the State Department confirmed Tuesday that "low, technical level'' talks are underway to help Cuba respond if the sheen should move close to its shores.

However, environmentalists are fearing that a lack of formal ties with the U.S could hamper efforts to get the required assistance to protect Cuba holidays from the imminent danger of the spill, and renewed a call to the Obama administration to engage in talks with Cuba.

"We simply can't afford to not communicate on the environment,'' Daniel Whittle expressed his concern as Cuba's programme director for the Environmental Defense Fund. "The economic and ecological impact, if and when, it reaches the loop current could be significant and we don't have any formal mechanism to respond or communicate.''

A State Department official said the U.S. and Cuba -- which have a cooperative agreement on hurricanes -- are "exchanging information and looking at avenues for further information exchange.''

Reinforcing the idea that the U.S is more than eager to collaborate, Alberto Gonzalez Casals, a spokesman at the Cuban Interests Section in Washington, said the country would be "ready to prevent this kind of oil spill.''

"I can tell you we are aware of the situation, we are preparing in any case of the oil spill coming to Cuba to take measures,'' he said. He also added that there is no need for early panic as the future of Cuba holidays looks unlikely to be damaged and the island doesn't expect to be affected, but is in a "position to cooperate with the United States.''

"The fact that it's Cuba creates a rat's nest of red tape and bureaucracy and inaction on just about anything,'' said David Guggenheim, a senior fellow at the Ocean Foundation in Washington. Guggenheim has also created an online resource page and is providing Cuba with satellite images and models to track the spill's trajectory, as well as helping to develop a clean up plan, including lessons on how to rescue oiled sea turtles. Guggenheim added that he's uncertain whether Cuba has preventive booms and other equipment to handle a spill. He said he's asked the Cuban government and is waiting for a response.

But Guggenheim, who said Cuba's coral reef presents researchers with lessons for protecting coral elsewhere, said he views the cleanup as a major U.S. responsibility, as not only Cuba holidays would suffer a great loss, but destruction of these virginal corals would be a major loss for the whole world.

"We caused this mess and how are we going to help them deal with it,'' he said.

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