In order to provide access to beaches, lakes and lagoons within a framework of security during Holy Week, the secretary of the Natural and Environmental Resources Department (DNER), Rafael Machargo Maldonado, reported that the Vigilantes Corps will reinforce patrols on the coasts and beaches, as well as in natural areas.
"We want citizens to enjoy these days without having to report unfortunate situations. For this reason, we urge citizens to enjoy the Easter break respecting and conserving natural and coastal resources. It is imperative that they comply with the safety rules, and that they respect the areas of critical species, such as the manatee. So far this year there have been 4 manatee deaths due to the impact of speeding boats, a situation that is avoided by following the basic rules of navigation. It is also of utmost importance that sailors use mooring buoys because they are a safe anchoring option that prevents their anchors from affecting sensitive ecosystems," Marchago stated.
Puerto Rico's Act 430 on navigation and aquatic safety requires that every vessel have the necessary safety equipment.
The required safety equipment includes, but is not limited to, life jackets approved by the Coast Guard (USCG) —in the case of jet skis, life jackets are required at all times—, as well as visual distress signals and fire extinguishers approved by the USCG, sound devices, flame controller for boats with inboard motors, flashlights, and mast and oil load and discharge capacity plate depending on the class of boat.
As such, the agents of the Vigilantes Corps have established a patrol plan on the coasts to guarantee citizens greater security during holidays.
"Our guards will be in the water to ensure that the sailors are up to date with their documents and verifying that the navigation statutes are followed. I must emphasize that we will verify that they have the safety equipment, that they handle their boats at the appropriate speed and that they follow the rules established in the water. At the same time, there will be a presence of the Guard Corps in the Maritime Terrestrial Zone, Spas, Forests, Recreational Areas and Protected Natural Areas; from early in the morning to early morning, from Thursday to Sunday. We wish a major week free of incidents," the secretary said.
Moreover, he urged the public that visit the coasts not to leave garbage, to take what they generate and to recycle. He recalled that some waste can reach the water and cause the death of marine species, marine mammals and aquatic birds.
"It is important to mention that some beaches are used by sea turtles to make their nests; so we ask for respect and not approach. The turtle groups have marked the areas, so it is easy to identify them and we ask for collaboration to take care of these endangered species. We want that during this week, when thousands of people arrive on the coasts, the beaches remain clean and for the enjoyment of all," Marchago said.
The official also reported that the reserves and state forests of the DRNA during the period of Holy Week, with the exception of Good Friday, will remain open in their regular hours for the enjoyment of all visitors.
The aquatic spaces of Boquerón in Cabo Rojo, Caña Gorda in Guánica, Cerro Gordo in Vega Alta, La Monserrate in Luquillo, Manuel “Nolo” Morales in Dorado, Punta Salinas in Toa Baja, Seven Seas in Fajardo and Sun Bay in Vieques will be operating on regular hours, including Good Friday.