Various species of marine life in the Caribbean yet to be fully observed by science could be wiped out before humanity gets a chance to see them if governments do not come together to protect sharks, whales and turtles in the region, researchers have warned.
The waters around the more than 700 islands of the Caribbean are among the most biodiverse places on the planet, containing the greatest concentration of marine species in the Atlantic Ocean as well as around 8 per cent of the world’s coral reefs.
However scientists from Beneath the Waves, a research NGO which operates in the region, have warned animals little known to science are at risk of being killed off by overfishing in the region.
And while many Caribbean nations have set up Marine Protection Areas (MPAs) that limit fishing, overlapping territories and complex histories of power in the region have meant few are big enough to protect vital areas for sharks, whales and turtles – three of the most threatened groups of marine vertebrates.
Austin Gallagher, Beneath the Waves’ founder and chief scientist who has called for a multinational approach to protecting the region’s biodiversity, told The Independent the issue should be on the table at the UN’s upcoming climate and biodiversity summit COP26, due to be hosted in Glasgow later this year.