Local and Federal Negligence Enables Environmental Crime in the Bahía Jobos Reserve in Salinas

For decades, an environmental crime has been taking place in the Bahía Jobos Reserve in Salinas before the eyes of many and implicates multiple branches of the government of Puerto Rico and the federal government that have been consistently negligent in carrying out their duties, an investigation by the Center for Investigative Journalism (CPI, in Spanish) revelead. 

The matter at hand is the illegal occupation and construction, the deforestation of mangroves, the filling of wetlands and the sanitary discharges to the sea in an area of the high ecological value of the terrestrial maritime zone. There is a conflict over the land ownership where the reserve is located. To date, there is no study related to the title for the land, where there are occupants with deeds that refer to the 1898 Treaty of Paris, Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DRNA, in Spanish) Secretary Rafael Machargo confirmed in an interview with the CPI. The Jobos Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, whose 2,800 acres belong mainly to the DRNA, was acquired with funds from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and has been managed with federal money since 1981, so there is joint jurisdiction over it. It is the only one of its kind in the Caribbean and one of only 29 in the United States and its territories.