To the community of Vieques:
At the beginning of November we received, through an unofficial channel, a copy of a co-management contract for the Bioluminescent Bay granted by the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) to the Municipality of Vieques that had been signed in August. We waited a reasonable time to see if any official communications would be sent to our organization about this. This has not yet happened.
In 2016, the DNER signed a co-management agreement for the Vieques Bioluminescent Bay Natural Reserve with the VCHT. This agreement, registered in the Office of the Comptroller of Puerto Rico, is for 10 years. That is why we were surprised that the DNER had executed a co-management agreement with the Municipality of Vieques without any of the two institutions informing or consulting us.
The VCHT has spent decades working for the conservation of the Bioluminescent Bay Natural Reserve and for Puerto Mosquito. The organization was instrumental in the creation of the Reserve. We have facilitated scientific research, citizen science activities and environmental education for our students and, trained guides and operators so that they have information that will serve them in their work. We have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in erosion control, weekly monitoring of the plankton that produces bioluminescence, monitoring of water quality and, after Hurricane Maria, in a reforestation effort and scientific research to ensure the protection of the Bay from climate change.
We have reviewed the document (attached to this communication), and again we emphasize that it did not reach us through any official channel. There are aspects of this document that cause us concern. We have always been available and willing to share our knowledge, findings, and work for a better management of the Reserve and the Bay.
We are always ready to explore new ways to conserve the Bay, but only if they truly benefit the community in the long term. This means that the Reserve and the Bay are conserved and managed properly and that the decisions made are based on science. Only in this way can we ensure that the fragile environment of our beloved biobay, is not destroyed. Nobody has worked as hard, for years, to take care of this precarious balance as our organization. It is for that very reason that the DNER signed the co-management agreement with the Trust in 2016 with a ten- years (10) term.
The Vieques Conservation & Historical Trust
Calle Flamboyán 138 • Vieques, PR 00765 • 787.741.8850 • 787 741-2844 firstname.lastname@example.org • www.vcht.org