NOAA provides funds to protect Puerto Rico's coral reefs

San Juan, Aug 5 (EFE).- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, will provide $321,000 for the conservation of Puerto Rico's coral reefs, the island's representative in the U.S. Congress, Pedro Pierluisi, said.

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just approved an allocation of $321,000 in federal funds for the local Department of Natural and Environmental Resources to pay for the operations of the Coral Reef Conservation and Management Program in Puerto Rico during fiscal year 2014," Pierluisi said.

The funds are being granted as part of the Strategic Plan of Goals and Objectives of the 2011-2015 Program, an allocation that will chiefly cover the salaries of researchers, Pierluisi said.

The individuals contracted for these tasks will work in the areas of training and raising awareness at the Isla Verde Marine Reserve and on the updating of local coral reef regulations.

Work will also be done to establish the Management Plan for Fajardo River Runoff Water, to implement the plan to control sedimentation in Cabo Rojo, and to develop the Water Control Plan for the Northeast Reserve, among others.

NOAA reported in February that a high level of chemical pollution had been detected in Guanica Bay on the southwest coast of Puerto Rico, which signifies a serious threat to the corals and marine life of that environment.

The bay is on the extreme southwest of Puerto Rico, an area of the Caribbean rich in marine life that attracts scuba divers from around the world.