Activists demand coastal protections

By John McPhaul

Organizations dedicated to protecting the coasts, sea turtles and other marine species, demanded Wednesday that the government put into effect a cease and desist order in the area of the construction of a swimming pool at Los Almendros beach, in Rincón, and also protect the rest of the turtle nesting areas and public domain assets in Puerto Rico’s maritime-terrestrial zone (ZMT by its Spanish initials).

The organizations stated that in the current nesting season, seven hawksbill turtle nests and two leatherback turtle nests have been recorded on that beach. Currently, three nests are demarcated.

This amounts to overwhelming evidence of the importance of the place as a nesting area for several species of sea turtles, which are in danger of extinction, the activists said.

They pointed out that the construction area at the Sol y Playa condominium is not a public domain asset to be located in the maritime-terrestrial zone.

“We demand that the secretary of the DNER [Department of Natural and Environmental Resources] fulfill his role and protect our coasts and endangered species in the case of the Sol y Playa condominium, as in other cases around the archipelago of Puerto Rico,” the groups said in a press release. “This construction is in the ZMT and does not comply with the criteria of public domain assets, so we demand that the damage be rectified by enforcing the cease and desist, again designating the area as a public domain asset and of high ecological value as demonstrated by the three nests present in the area at the moment. Finally, we ask the government to cease the presence of an excessive number of police officers against the right of the citizens of Puerto Rico to demonstrate peacefully.”

They added that the images of the destruction of the pool after Hurricane Maria are also clear evidence that it is located in the ZMT.

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