DNER chief calls for safe, litter-free summer at beaches

By John McPhaul

With the arrival of summer, including today’s celebration of the Night of San Juan, Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado announced Tuesday the security measures that the Ranger Corps will establish for the protection and conservation of the coasts in the high season.

“The agents of the Ranger Corps will be active this Wednesday, when the Night of San Juan is celebrated, from 6 in the afternoon until 2 in the morning,” Machargo Maldonado said in a written statement. “Land and sea units will redouble their efforts and intensify patrols along the coasts, where thousands of people come to celebrate the holiday. I ask bathers and sailors to follow the security measures established by Law 430 on Navigation and Aquatic Safety and to remember that we continue to be in the midst of a pandemic, so the protocols recommended by the health authorities must be followed.”

“Bathers must bear in mind that bonfires on the beach are prohibited, that there are turtle nests on many [beaches] and that we must respect those spaces and not go beyond the marked limits,” he said. “Also, we call for each person to use reusable materials, such as glasses, covers and containers that help not to generate garbage on the beaches. If everyone carries a bag to take out whatever garbage he or she generates, I guarantee that the beaches will wake up clean as has happened on other occasions.”

Regarding navigation, the DNER chief said boat operators must be alert to weather conditions, use life jackets and have the necessary equipment established by environmental statutes.

He also invited citizens to communicate with the Ranger Corps, seven days a week and 24 hours a day, if they witness an event that involves endangered or threatened species -- manatees or sea turtles -- or activities that endanger the life and safety of people at sea. The phone number is 787-230-5550 or 787-724-5700.

Machargo Maldonado noted that eight manatees have died so far this year on the island’s coasts. Five of the deaths have been due to the impact of motor boats, for which he asked the boat operators to exercise special precautions to avoid other tragedies with this species whose population in Puerto Rico is estimated at 300.

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