Coral reef protections off Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands will be the focus of a new U.S. government inter-agency group that will work to protect these resources from further destruction. The Environmental Protection Agency this week announced the Caribbean Coral Reef Protection Group tasked with protecting these islands’ coral reefs.
“The coral reefs of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are renowned for their beauty, and their ecological and economic value,” EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck said in a prepared statement. “Unfortunately, these treasures are being destroyed. By working with our fellow governmental agencies, the EPA will help make sure coral reefs continue to contribute to the region’s economy and ecology for generations to come.”
Coral reefs in the Caribbean have been damaged or destroyed by a variety of factors, including disease, overfishing, sediment runoff, pollution, climate change and many other issues. The group will work on a local level to implement effective strategies that will help to mitigate some of these damaging effects in an effort to improve the health and resiliency of these reefs.
The EPA will host a public listening session February 25 in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands to listen to the concerns of community groups and citizens of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with regard to the condition of their coral reefs. The Caribbean Coral Reef Protection Group is comprised of the following U.S. government agencies: The Virgin Islands Department of Planning and Natural Resources, the Puerto Rico Environmental Quality Board, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration Coral Reef Conservation Program, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey.