The region’s diversity in terms of historical backgrounds, cultures, languages, country and population size and political systems result in a complex geopolitical landscape at regional level, as is reflected in the existing regional political and economic integration mechanisms; for example the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), and the Association of Caribbean States (ACS).
IOC-UNESCO and UNEP (2016) estimated that more than 70 million people lived in coastal areas of the Caribbean Sea and more than 30 million in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. From those, more than 12 millions live below the national poverty line. The NBS LME is much less populated, with about 1.5 million people living within 100 Km to the coast, from which at least 250 000 are poor. Their income is generated mainly through economic activities that are based on living marine resources, for example small-scale fisheries. While this type of fisheries is directed to local markets and subsistence, some types of fisheries are targeted to “iconic species” like the Queen Conch and Spiny Lobster, which are unique to the region and highly valued by tourists and visitors.