Law and Effect
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS The Wider Caribbean Region (WCR) is defined as encompassing the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, and the adjacent bays and marine areas. The Caribbean Sea is a semi-enclosed marine area connected to the greater Atlantic. It is bordered by the Lesser Antilles in the East and Southeast, Greater Antilles to the North, Central America to the West, and Mexico to the Southwest. Significant marine biodiversity and plentiful resources including coral reefs, exotic fish, sea turtles, and ocean plants make the sea a popular site for tourism. In addition, local populations rely on it for their livelihoods. Unique coral reefs with the endemic coral species make the WCR a site of environmental significance (Fanning et al. 2009). It encompasses 36 states and territories (UNEP 2010). Of those, 28 are United Nations member states including Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Aruba, Belize, Bonaire, Barbados, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Costa Rica, Curacao, Colombia, Dominica, Grenada, Guatemala, Guadeloupe, Honduras, Martinique, Mexico (Quintana Roo State), Montserrat, Nicaragua, Panama, Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos, the United States Virgin Islands and Venezuela (UNEP 2006). Within the Wider Caribbean Region, countries are characterized by significant variation in wealth and development. These differences contribute to major gaps in capacities to govern the marine environment (Fanning et al. 2009). The WCR encompasses approximately 15 million square kilometers (IOC-UNESCO 2009). Because of its great size, the WCR is often broken down into several subsystems, as is the case...
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