The Coral Reef Conservation and Management Program within Puerto Rico’s Department of Natural and Environmental Resources was established in 1999 in order to conserve, manage, and protect coral reef ecosystems, and has run a coral reef monitoring program since its inception.
The program’s priorities include:
- Improve water quality and related reef systems by reducing pollutant inputs from terrestrial sources
- Apply immediate protection to commercial, recreational and artisanal coral reef fisheries and related coral ecosystems by employing available and known management tools to protect and conserve
- Reduce those human impacts that are most critical to corals’ protection and health
- Manage for climate change and diseases emanating from increase in storm frequency and impact, water temperature and air pollution, and promote recovery of reefs from previous events
IYOR Activities Plan
Puerto Rico held a ‘Coral Reef Week’ from 17th June, with activities including:
- Guided snorkel to coral restoration areas with Grupo VIDAS in Vega Baja
- Coastal restoration and reforestation with Protectores de Cuenca in Guánica
- Screening of Chasing Coral and discussion at the Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (JBNERR)
- Workshop for teachers, fisherman, and community leaders titled “Importance, condition, and management of coral reefs and seagrass beds in Puerto Rico” with the DNER in San Juan
- 3rd Eat Lionfish! Festival with HJR Reefscaping and Sea Grant in Guayanilla
Other activities held around Puerto Rico includes the “I only anchor in sand” campaign aimed at protecting seagrass and corals, painting ocean-related murals, and public coral reef presentations and workshops.
Marine Science Day Open House in Mayagüez.
On August 31, a total of 352 visitors attended the Marine Science Day Open House, hosted by AECiMA (Association of Marine Science Students) and the Department of Marine Sciences at University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez campus, where various topics were discussed including coral reef ecology, use of drones for resource management, systems for oceanic observation, and coastal erosion. Visitors were guided through the research areas in Magueyes Island, where different activities were set up for students and professors to discuss their research. Activities included a tour where AECiMa students guided groups to a local viewpoint and taught about the formation of the La Parguera Natural Reserve, specifically highlighting the benefits of having coral reefs near the coastlines during extreme weather events such as Hurricane Maria.
Yo Amo Tres Palmas Marine Reserve Reef restoration and clean up.
On September 22, volunteers gathered and restored approximately 170 corals and about 50 lbs. of trash from the beach and reef in Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, located off the west coast of Puerto Rico. This brings the Reserve’s total to more than 1,000 corals planted since the destruction from hurricane Maria in 2017. Other activities included free snorkel tours, local educational exhibitions related to coral reefs, and kid’s activities including a sand castle competition.
Isla Verde Reef Marine Reserve’s 6th Anniversary!
Isla Verde Reef Marine Reserve celebrated its 6th anniversary on September 29 at their kiosk right on the beach, with informative talks on responsible snorkelling, the marine reserve as a protected area, and a summary of the work carried out in the reserve, as well as workshops discussing microplastics in the sand and beach profiling.
Additional coral reef activities held this year include:
- Educational tours, guided field trips, and hands-on laboratories with schools, educational groups, and universities in the La Parguera Natural Reserve with the Marine Science Department
- AECiMa continues its efforts to engage the public in coral reef conservation and celebrate IYOR 2018 by holding outreach events and educational talks to public and private schools and universities, with topics ranging from basic coastal ecosystem ecology and conservation to career opportunities in Oceanography.
- Screenings of “The Last Reef: Cities Beneath the Sea”
- Discussion of Urban reefs: protecting metropolitan areas with C.R.E.S. in San Juan
- Coastal and marine clean ups
- Workshop for emergency preparedness and response to coral reef emergencies