Since 2007, the Rincón chapter of the Surfrider Foundation has been awarded three grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Fisheries Service to conduct Marine Debris Removal and Prevention programs along the west coast of Puerto Rico. The project began in 2007 in the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve and expanded to include a reef 5 miles off the west coast of Cabo Rojo known as Cayo Ron. Since the project began, around 392 volunteers contributed roughly 1385.5 hrs to protect and restore reefs in both study sites. Some performance measures coming out of this work include, surveying more than 750 acres of coral reef habitat in search of marine debris, removing 550 tires, restoring 120 elkhorn coral colonies, and removing a boat wreck off of a reef. In total, we estimate that 2.5 tons of marine debris has been removed since 2007 and we intend to add to this amount with our next project which will expand to include new study sites such as Shacks Reef, Isla Desecheo, and La Parguera.
Aside from marine debris removal, the chapter invested extensive amounts of time in marine debris prevention through outreach and education. Since 2007, the chapter has worked with 5 different schools around the island and reached at least 1000 students. Activities included holding coral reef seminars to teach the students about the importance of coral reefs and the threats they face within our region and around the world. In addition, a major goal of the marine debris prevention program was to increase municipal recycling and to do so we help start two extensive in-school recycling programs, restore Rincón’s community recycling center, install more than 20 trash bins and 4 recycling bins at area beaches, and donate additional recycling bins to select businesses. With our next project, we intend to incorporate 2 more schools into our marine debris prevention program and reach out to more businesses in our area.
To learn more about the Marine Debris Removal Program click here.
Click here to watch the trailer to the film Restore which highlights SF Rincon’s MDRPP efforts along the west coast of Puerto Rico since 2007.