Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Deserai Crow

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Dan Kaffine


Cuban coral reefs have been well-preserved due to a global economic embargo over the past sixty plus years, as well as strict environmental policies and goals implemented by the Cuban national government. This thesis examines sustainable natural resource management in the context of coral reefs in Cuba, studying the importance of reef ecosystems to the economic and ecological health of local communities as well as the strengths and weaknesses of environmental policies implemented by the Cuban government. As the U.S. embargo on Cuba begins to lift, there will be a dramatic increase in tourism and foreign industry into Cuba, bringing with it a host of environmental concerns. Australia, the Bahamas, and the Philippines are used as case studies to examine the relative successes of various environmental management strategies with each country receiving a numerical ranking based on a variety of criteria. Using the results of this ranking, a set of recommendations are made for Cuba to consider in order to best preserve the quality of the country’s coral reefs while still allowing for economic growth and development.