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Commonwealth Facts

Miles of Coast: 700

Coastal Population (2000): 2,522,438

Lead Coastal Management Agency: Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) / Departmento de Recursos Naturales y Ambientales (DRNA)

Approval Date: 1978

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Ocean and Coastal Management in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico’s Coastal Program

Puerto Rico's Coastal Program was approved by NOAA in 1978 and is comprised of a network of agencies with authority in the coastal zone. The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources serves as the lead agency and is responsible for managing the maritime zone, coastal waters, and submerged lands. The Puerto Rico Planning Board serves as the primary agency for managing coastal development. Other Commonwealth agencies that are part of the Coastal Program include the Environmental Quality Board, Regulations and Permits Administration, Department of Recreation and Sports, National Park Company, Department of Agriculture, and Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. Puerto Rico's coastal zone generally extends 1000 meters (one kilometer) inland, but extends further inland in places to include important coastal resources.

coastline

Puerto Rico balances the management of cultural and historical resources, intense coastal development pressure, and an outstanding array of natural ecosystems, including mangroves, wetlands, coral reefs, beaches, and coastal forests.


Puerto Rico contains approximately 700 miles of coastline. The Commonwealth features coastal ecosystems such as beaches, bioluminescent bays, coral reefs, and mangrove lagoons. Puerto Rico’s diverse habitats support an abundance of marine life, including a variety of threatened and endangered species.  Challenges in managing its coastal program include sedimentation, erosion, coastal hazards, and illegal use of the island's maritime zone. Major economic activities involve shipping, tourism, and agriculture.

Puerto Rico's Coral Program

Puerto Rico is also a member of the U.S. Coral Reef Task Force. The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources serves as the Commonwealth's point-of-contact to the Task Force and has led a participatory process to development and implement local action strategies to improve the health of coral reefs. The strategies address four priority threats to coral reefs: land-based sources of pollution, over-fishing, lack of public awareness, and recreational overuse/misuse.

Puerto Rico’s National Estuarine Research Reserve

The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve includes 2,883 acres in the second largest estuarine area in Puerto Rico. The Reserve encompasses 15 mangrove islets and habitat for the endangered brown pelican, peregrine falcon, hawksbill sea turtle, and West Indian manatee. The Reserve, designated in 1981, is principally managed by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources.

Program Achievements

Puerto Rico Public Access Signs

Links

Puerto Rico Coastal Program — (Spanish) The website provides information on the Puerto Rico Coastal Management Program, including current projects, rules and regulations, natural reserves, and links to other Commonwealth agencies.

Puerto Rico Coastal Program — (English) This website describes, in English, the mission, goals, and objectives of the Puerto Rico Coastal Management Program, and provides links to a few of the communications products developed in English. The website is currently under construction.

Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve — The website provides information on research, education, and stewardship activities at the Reserve.

Marine Protected Areas — Search for marine protected areas in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Coastal Nonpoint Program Conditional and Full Approval Documents — The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program encourages better coordination between state coastal zone managers and water quality to reduce polluted runoff in the coastal zone. The Commonwealth received full approval in 2000.

Puerto Rico Coastal Program Evaluation (2006) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of federally approved state coastal management programs.

Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve Evaluation (2011) — The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management conducts periodic performance reviews of estuarine research reserves.

Puerto Rico Coastal Zone Enhancement Program Assessment and Strategy (2011-2016) — Every five years, the Coastal Zone Management Act encourages states and territories to conduct self-evaluations of their coastal management programs to assess significant changes in the state’s coastal resources and management practices, identify critical needs, and prioritize areas for enhancement under the Coastal Zone Enhancement Program.

Puerto Rico Coral Reef Program (Spanish) - The website provides links to publications, presentations, and photos of coral reefs and species found in reefs.

Puerto Rico’s Coral Reef Local Action Strategies — The U.S. Coral Reef Task Force identified the need for more focused action at the local level to reduce key threats to coral reefs and called for each of the states and territories with significant coral reef resources to develop local action strategies.

Contact Information for Puerto Rico’s Programs

Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources
PO Box 366147
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00936
(787) 999-2200 x2719 or x2729

Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve
Call Box B
Aguirre, Puerto Rico 00704
(787) 853-4617