The initiative is focused on building resilience to coastal hazards such as extreme weather events, pollution, and marine debris.
The Biden administration has allocated $34.4 million in federal funding to protect Puerto Rico’s coasts.
Vice President Kamala Harris announced on Friday that the Department of Commerce (DC) recommended the funding for eight projects to mitigate the effects of extreme weather events that threaten Puerto Rico’s shores and its rich ecological diversity and maritime economy.
The initiative is part of the Biden administration’s Climate-Ready Coasts, which is funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) with additional funds leveraged from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is administered by the DC, the Climate-Ready Coasts initiative is focused on investing in high-impact projects that create climate solutions by storing carbon; building resilience to coastal hazards such as extreme weather events, pollution, and marine debris; restore coastal habitats that help wildlife and humans thrive; build the capacity of underserved communities and support community-driven restoration; and provide employment opportunities.
Some of the projects include improving coral reef recovery and resilience around Puerto Rico, which will help provide coastal protection, enhance fisheries, and support recreation and tourism economies.
The restoration of the historic Guánica Lagoon will reduce land-based sources of pollution in a priority watershed in Puerto Rico.
A multi-site coral reef restoration will build resilient communities in Florida, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. An investment of $6.9 million will be used to help rebuild populations of five Endangered Species Act-listed coral reefs at multiple sites.
The Vieques Bioluminescent Bay, one of five in the world, will also benefit from this initiative restoring coastal habitats within Bahía Puerto Mosquito, creating living shorelines, and expanding the restoration of mangroves and coral reef habitat, which will improve ecosystem and community resilience.
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Other projects include setting the baselines for a marine debris-free island, strengthening Puerto Rico’s underserved communities through coastal habitat restoration and resilience, like Loíza, and the largest mangrove habitat restoration project ever undertaken on the island, specifically in the Jobos Bay National Estuarine, in Salinas, Aguirre, and Guayama.
“The recommended projects will help protect some of Puerto Rico’s most treasured natural resources. They will also unlock economic opportunities and bring new partners to the table, as we work toward a climate resilient Puerto Rico,” said Rick Spinrad, Ph.D., NOAA administrator, in a statement.