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The Obama administration is forging ahead with its normalization of relations with Cuba by reaching a new deal on environmental conservation.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Park Service on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding with their Cuban counterparts regarding science, stewardship and management of marine protected areas. The memo aims to "foster conservation and understanding of natural marine resources in both countries," the two U.S. agencies stated in a news release.

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"We recognize we all share the same ocean and face the same challenges of understanding, managing and conserving critical marine resources for future generations," stated NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan, who traveled to Cuba to sign the memo. "The opportunity for international cooperation in marine conservation is invaluable and this moves us closer to ensuring a healthy and productive ocean for everyone."

National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis added: "After all, fish, marine mammals, sea turtles, birds and other marine life exist in ecosystems that rarely fall within maps drawn by man."

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