The Gulf of Mexico is an extraordinary marine ecosystem, with abundant living marine resources and economic and environmental productivity. It also is the site for extensive industrial oil and gas development, commercial fishing, and shipping. It has supported human populations for millennia, and it is has experienced the ravages of hurricanes and oil spills, and extensive and often poorly planned coastal development. Within the Gulf are found some the world’s most pristine and important sites of natural abundance and beauty, and many of these sites are protected under the laws of the United States, Cuba and Mexico. Recently, the three countries have begun to explore ways to cooperate with each other and coordinate their conservation and management of these areas. This panel will explore the current threats to the Gulf that require international cooperation and the trinational efforts to work together to manage marine protected areas.
- Alejandra Navarrete, Advisor, Ministers at the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries in Mexico; National Project Coordinator, GEF Project Implementation of the Strategic Action Program for the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem between US and Mexico.
Alejandra Navarrete has an LL.M in environmental law from George Washington University, a JD from UNAM in Mexico City and is a fellow of the 8th Cohort at the Program in Leadership in Environment and Development. She has been an advisor for the Ministers at the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Fisheries in Mexico, in various administrations since 1995, focusing on natural protected areas. She was responsible for reviewing policy issues, presidential decrees creating new natural protected areas and the study of management programs and administrative regulations affecting protected areas. In the administration of 1996 to 2000 she filed the presidential decrees of approximately 45 new protected areas. She also worked as consultant for the Commission on Protected Areas (which she help to create as an organization for the federal administration).Ms. Navarrete has worked in complex legislation for carbon markets for low carbon emission regulations. As adviser to the General Director of Climate Change Policy in conducting legal research and analysis and drafting legal opinions, advising and briefing on a diverse range of procedural and substantive legal issues relating to the implementation of reporting and review framework under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement.
- Valerie Miller, M.S., Manager, Cuba Oceans Program, Environmental Defense Fund
Valerie is a Manager for EDF’s Cuba Oceans Team. In this position she manages an multi-national team of government, academic, and civil society partners to develop fisheries management and shark conservation projects in Cuba that can benefit the wider Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region. She manages outreach support and capacity building activities for on-the-ground partners that connect fishers, scientists, and government leaders. Valerie supported the Cuban government’s development of a National Plan of Action for the Conservation and Sustainable Management of Sharks and continues to support its implementation. Valerie has a M.S. in Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from Colorado State University (CSU) and El Colegio de la Frontera Sur in Mexico and a B.S. in Environmental Communication and Spanish from CSU.
- María José Espinosa Carrillo, Director of Programs and Operations, Center for Democracy in the Americas
María José Espinosa Carrillo is the Director of Programs and Operations for the Center for Democracy in the Americas (CDA) and has extensive experience in economic development and international relations as well as social and gender issues. An expert in U.S – Cuba relations, María José provides strategic and operational leadership for the Cuba Travel Program, CDA’s signature initiative, which over the last two years has brought delegations of senior leaders from government, business, and civil society to Cuba to learn about the impact of U.S. policy on the Cuban people in order to promote the normalization of relations between the two countries. As a member of the leadership team, she helps guide the overall direction for CDA, including: program priorities, advocacy, communications, and development. Born and raised in Havana, María José holds a MSc. in Economics from the University of Havana, a MSc. in Tourism and Environmental Economics from the Universitat de les Illes Balears, and a BSc. in Economics from the University of Havana. She is the recipient of multiple academic awards, including a scholarship from the government of Spain’s Agency for International Development Cooperation for her graduate work at the Universitat de les Illes Balears.
- Don Baur, Partner, Perkins Coie (moderator)
Don Baur is a Partner in the Environment, Energy and Resources practice of the Perkins Coie law firm in Washington D.C., having previously served as General Counsel of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission and an attorney for the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Solicitor’s Office of the Department of the Interior. He practices primarily in the natural resources and Indian law areas, with an emphasis on marine ecosystem protection, onshore and offshore renewable energy, water law, wildlife, animal welfare, conservation system lands, wetlands, historic preservation, and Indian lands and natural resources.Don has been actively involved in ocean conservation, endangered species, marine mammal and marine wildlife protection, and animal welfare work throughout his career, including matters involving right whales, harbor porpoise, belugas, polar bears, bottlenose dolphins, manatees, Hawaiian monk seals, sperm whales, northern and southern sea otters, orcas, humpback whales, Dall’s porpoise, North Pacific fur seals and several non-marine mammal ocean wildlife species. Don is actively involved in captive cetacean welfare issues.
He served as Keiko’s lawyer, in the successful rescue, rehabilitation and reintroduction to the wild of the star whale from the movie Free Willy, and he is now pursuing legal action seeking full public disclosure by Sea World of the health records related to the captive life and death of Tilikum, the whale featured in the movie Blackfish, and other cetaceans. He represented renowned conservationists and public figures in the successful lawsuit opposing the capture of beluga whales from the wild in Russia for the Georgia Aquarium; and he serves as counsel for The Whale Sanctuary Project to build seaside sanctuaries for the transfer of whales currently held in captivity.
On other matters, he is representing a coalition spearheaded by the Governors of California and Oregon to remove the dams on the Klamath River that block passage for endangered salmon and serving as a U.S. legal expert to implement Obama Administration agreements with Cuba and Mexico to establish cooperative efforts on environmental protection and improve general diplomatic relations between the two countries. His work on wildlife and conservation issues has been recognized through awards from the Pegasus Foundation, the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, and the Center for Marine Conservation.
Don has authored over 40 law review articles and is the lead editor and author of American Bar Association treatises on the Endangered Species Act and Ocean Law and Policy; he has taught Ocean Law at the Vermont Law School for the last 20 years; and he serves on the Boards of Trustees for the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Shenandoah National Park Trust. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and Trinity College.