• The Star Staff

DNER clarifies aquatic recreation rules in latest executive order

By John McPhaul


Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA by its Spanish initials) Secretary Rafael Machargo Maldonado issued Administrative Order 2020-07J and 2020-06B, over the weekend to clarify and update the extent of Executive Order 2020-054 on marine concessionaires and aquatic recreational activities in Puerto Rico.

“According to the most recent Executive Order issued by the Governor, aquatic recreational activities will be allowed while maintaining certain controls to protect the health and safety of citizens,” Machargo Maldonado said. “However, to clarify certain doubts regarding the Executive Order, we have prepared communications that specify in detail what is allowed in the marinas and the aquatic recreational activities that can be conducted.”

With regard to marinas, the executive order issued late last week by Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced established that their operation is allowed seven days a week from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m.; however, activities in common areas are prohibited. The use of marinas by vessels related to commercial fishing registered in Puerto Rico is allowed as it is part of the food production chain.

The following is a summary of the highlights of Administrative Order 2020-07J:

* The entry and exit of boats from island marinas for recreational purposes is prohibited.

* The agglomeration of people is not allowed in the facilities of the marinas and social distancing and the use of masks must be maintained at all times.

* Recreational fishing, tournaments and marine events are prohibited.

* The use of marinas is permitted for government vessels, contractors or scientific research.

* The prohibition on the entry of vessels from other jurisdictions than that of Puerto Rico remains in force, with the exceptions being in emergency circumstances that endanger the lives of the crew, and that have the proper authorizations.

* In emergency circumstances that endanger the lives of the crew or activity directly linked to the safety of the vessels, foreign vessels or those from ports outside Puerto Rico will be accepted with the authorization, coordination and prior instruction of the DRNA, U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Customs in the following four marinas: Club Náutico de San Juan, Marina Pescadería Puerto Real in Cabo Rojo, Club Náutico in Guayama and Marina Puerto del Rey in Fajardo.

* All types of boat repair and maintenance work, the opening of boat parts stores, retail stores and restaurants within the marinas will be allowed following the prevention protocols.

The following is a summary of the most outstanding points of the Administrative Order 2020-06B (aquatic recreational activities):

* Aquatic recreation activities will be allowed seven (7) days a week from 5 a.m. until 7 p.m.

* The opening of beaches, protected natural areas and spas administered under the DRNA is authorized for the purpose of exercising or sports practices.

* The hours of the DRNA spas are from Wednesday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. On Mondays and Tuesdays they are closed for maintenance.

* The hours of the natural areas are from Wednesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, the following areas will remain closed: Guajataca Reservoir Wildlife Refuge, Lucchetti Reservoir Wildlife Refuge, Lucchetti Wildlife Refuge, La Plata Reservoir Wildlife Refuge, Cerrillos Reservoir Wildlife Refuge and Laguna de Tortuguero Natural Reserve.

* The PPN spas will operate with 50 percent of their entrance capacity.

Crowding is prohibited, either on the beach or shore, as well as in the water. At the end of your activity, you must leave the site immediately.

The following aquatic activities are allowed, provided they are carried out using the method of immediate entry and exit of the water, without stopping (“keep moving”), off the beach or shore and maintaining social distance in the water:

* Snorkeling and diving (accessing by the shore)

* Rowing: kayak, paddleboard and canoe

* Surfing in all its modalities (surfing, shore surfing, boogie boarding)

* Windsurfing, sunfish and Hobie Cat (accessing by the shore)

* Walking, running, jogging, calisthenics

* Bird watching

* And any sport allowed by the Department of Recreation and Sports in its Internal Memo No. 2020-06ª, of July 17, 2020.

Failure by concessionaires, or citizens who wish to enjoy aquatic recreational activities with the provisions herein will be sufficient cause for the imposition of an administrative fine and the suspension or revocation of the concession, if applicable.

“We urge all sea craft, commercial fishermen and the general public to follow the guidelines given in these communications, which are immediately effective and must be strictly followed,” Machargo Maldonado added.

Failure to comply with the provisions of the administrative orders by concessionaires or citizens will be sufficient cause for the imposition of an administrative fine and the suspension or revocation of the concession, if applicable.

For more information, access the DRNA website or any of the agency’s official social networks for more information. Likewise, any questions or concerns can be directed via email to: ayudaciudadano@drna.pr.gov.