Laws and Regulations related to coral reefs in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands


Both in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands there are several laws, administrative orders and regulations for the protection of coral reefs and associated resources. These include laws to regulate fishing, navigation, anchoring, the disposition of solid and liquid wastes and other recreational activities.

Recreational users of coral reefs need to be aware that there are specific laws and regulations for the different protected areas with which they must comply. For example, in Puerto Rico all fishing is strictly prohibited within the limits of the Luis Peña Natural Reserve in Culebra and the Desecheo Marine Reserve. In the U.S. Virgin Islands, in addition to local government protected areas and Federally protected Buck Island Coral Reef Monument in St. Croix and Virgin Islands Coral Reef Monument in St. John, there is the Marine Conservation District in federal waters for the protection of red hind and mutton snapper spawning areas in which specific rules and regulations apply. The U.S. Virgin Coastal Zone Management Program also identifies Areas of particular Concern (APCs) where specific regulations are applicable. Further, there are four geographic areas in the US Virgin Islands that are locally managed and receive support from the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program for the implementation of USVI Coral Reef Management Priorities and  Local Action Strategies: St. Croix East End Marine Park, St. Thomas East End Reserves, and Fish and Coral Bay, St. John.

To obtain the most recent applicable rules and regulations in each jurisdiction, you can visits the following websites:




Below are additional links to different sources of information regarding marine life:



Mangrove Maps

Coral Map

Seagrass Map

Taxonomic Classification