Sunday, January 31, 2010

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program

NOAA's Coral Reef Conservation Program places a Coral Management Fellow in Rincon, PR

Fellowship Overview

The NOAA Coral Reef Management Fellowship Program was established to respond to the need for additional coral reef management capacity in the U.S. Flag Pacific and Caribbean islands. The program has been expanded to include Florida in the 2010-2012 cycle. The program provides the state and territorial coral reef management agencies with highly qualified candidates whose education and work experience meet each island's specific needs, while providing the individual fellows with professional experience in coastal and coral reef resources management.

Each jurisdiction develops a separate Statement of Work which contains project descriptions, goals and objectives, minimum and desired qualifications, and salary, among other information. The Statements of Work uniquely reflect each jurisdiction's particular needs, complementing other ongoing local projects and management activities. Successful candidates will meet these needs.

The fellow placed in Rincon, Puerto Rico, is Rina Hauptfeld. She graduated from the University of Washington with a masters degree in marine affairs. She has recently relocated to Rincon to begin working with regional and local agencies including the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER)(the hosting agency), Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios del Litoral, Sea Grant, and the chapter of The Surfrider Foundation in Rincon. We are all very pleased to welcome her into the community and look forward to collaborating with her and these other agencies in developing her work plan. Come meet the new fellow this Thursday night, February 4th, 2010 at Surfrider Foundation Rincon's monthly meeting. She will give a brief introduction of herself, her interest in NOAA's coral reef conservation program, and conduct a scoping activity with the participants to help her begin to develop her work plan. The work plan is due no later than three months from when she begins her appointment. So, come help voice your opinion about the outreach and education needed, the focus groups to be involved, and the ideas on your mind this Thursday!

Junta de Planificacion Proposed Rezoning of coastal areas for Rincon and Anasco

The coastal areas of Rincón and Añasco, including the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, are under threat.

In a hearing on November 17th, 2009, at the Mayor's building, the Puerto Rico Planning Board (Junta de Planificacion) presented plans to rezone coastal areas from Puntas in Rincón to Añasco to make way for 'small' hotels, parking lots, etc. Below is a map of the plans.

Photo: Above is an example of one of the areas under threat. The photo represents the land adjacent to the Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, in Rincon, Puerto Rico where the planning board is seeking to change the zoning to allow small hotels and other unknown concrete structures to be built.

Click here for the map of the planning boards plans.

Further below, the map is broken down into smaller components; under each image there is a link to a pdf. Here you can view the images in higher resolution.

Click here for a detailed description of the proposed plans in spanish.

Take action by sending a comment to the JP through our Action Alert.

Click here to access the Action Alert!

Additionally, you can submit comments in two other ways:

1. electronically to

2. and most effectively by mail to

Hector Morales Vargas, Chairman of Junta de Planificacion
Loida Soto Nogueres, Secretary of Junta de Planificacion
Puerto Rico Planning Board
PO Box 41119
San Juan, PR 00940-1119

Click here to download and print a letter to be sent to the JP.

Please submit your comments about preserving Rincón and Añasco 's natural resources, and the precious Tres Palmas Marine Reserve, for generations to come.

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Area under consideration

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Legend 2

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Area 1

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Area 2

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Area 3

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Area 4

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Puntas to Domes

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Marias to the Marina

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Sea Beach

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South Barrero

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Anasco 1

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Anasco 2

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Surfrider Foundation. 510 Winter, 2010

Jim Moriarty, CEO of Surfrider Foundation, delivers five key issues in ten minutes for supporters, members and activists.

This video covers key metrics and accomplishments, the importance of engagement and new toolsets that transform the movement of coastal conservation.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

US must respond to coral concerns

Suit Will Be Filed to Protect 83 Corals Threatened by Global Warming, Ocean Acidification

The Center for Biological Diversity has formally notified the National Marine Fisheries Service of its intent to sue the agency for its failure to respond to a petition seeking to protect 83 imperiled coral species under the Endangered Species Act. These corals, all of which occur in U.S. waters ranging from Florida and Hawaii to U.S. territories in the Caribbean and Pacific, face a growing threat of extinction due to rising ocean temperatures caused by global warming, and the related threat of ocean acidification. The Endangered Species Act requires that the National Marine Fisheries Service respond to the petition within 90 days, and this initial finding is delinquent.

“Within a few decades, global warming and ocean acidification threaten to completely destroy magnificent coral reefs that took millions of years to build,” said Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Timing is of the essence to reverse the tragic decline of these vitally important reefs, and we can’t afford any delays in protecting corals under the Endangered Species Act.”

Among the group's list of 83 species is the mountainous star coral, once considered the dominant reef building coral in the Atlantic, and the ivory tree coral, a branching coral found in the Caribbean whose delicate limbs provide shelter for numerous reef fish.

Sakashita said protection under the Endangered Species Act would create new conservation opportunities and provide for greater scrutiny of fishing, dredging and offshore oil development.

Reef-building coral is a fragile organism, a tiny polyp-like animal that builds a calcium-carbonate shell around itself and survives in a symbiotic relationship with types of algae — each providing sustenance to the other. Even a 1 degree Celsius (1.7 degree Fahrenheit) rise in normal maximum sea temperatures can disrupt that relationship.

Unusually warm waters in recent years has caused the animals that make up coral to expel the colorful algae they live with, creating a bleached color. If the problem persists, the coral itself dies — killing the environment where many fish and other marine organisms live.

Corals around the world are being stressed by rising sea temperatures. Carbon dioxide released by burning fossil fuels is absorbed by the oceans, making the waters more acidic and corrosive on corals. Land-based pollution, such as sewage, beach erosion, coastal development and overfishing also are to blame, experts say.

Also Wednesday, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced a new review for two rare U.S. Virgin Island plants, the agave eggersiana and solanum conocarpum, in response to a Center for Biological Diversity complaint challenging the agency's 2006 decision not to give them federal protection.

Scientists have warned that coral reefs are likely to be the first worldwide ecosystem to collapse due to global warming; all world’s reefs could be ruined by 2050. When corals are stressed by warm ocean temperatures, they are vulnerable to bleaching and death. Mass bleaching events have become much more frequent and severe as ocean temperatures have risen in recent decades. Scientists predict that most of the world’s corals will be subjected to mass bleaching events at deadly frequencies within 20 years on our current emissions path.

For more information about the Center’s coral conservation campaign, visit:

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with 255,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Noticias de Isabela; Salvemos Arrecife de Shacks - Save Shacks Reef

Saludos a todos,

Por favor, hagan un esfuerzo para asistir a esta conferencia el jueves 21 de enero, 2010 en Isabela (6:30pm). Rescate Playas Isabela y la Liga Ecológica del Noroeste están trabajando juntos para encontrar formas de proteger mejor el ecosistema de los arrecifes en la Playa "Shacks" (Playa El Bajo), Isabela. Hemos invitado a un experto (Manuel Valdés Pizzini, PhD) en las áreas marinas protegidas (AMP) para informarnos sobre las diversas opciones disponibles para nuestra comunidad. Después de haber escuchado a los presentadores (será en español) necesitamos conocer sus opiniones en cuanto a si usted cree que esta es una buena opción para el lugar, o no .

Como se esperaba, algunos pescadores están muy en contra de la idea, esperamos que estará allí también. En resumen - este arrecife nos ofrece muchos servicios - ?Lo que queremos proteger para las generaciones futuras?

Quien: Rescate Playas Isabela y la Liga Ecológica del Noroeste
Donde: Anfiteatro Justo Mendez, detras Iglesia pueblo Isabela
Cuando: jueves 21 de enero, 2010 en Isabela a la 6:30 por la tarde
Cientifico Invitado: Dr. Manuel Valdez-Pizzini

Acceso Rescate Playas Isablea para mas informacion.

Donate Money to aid in Humanitarian Efforts in Haiti

By (CNN) -- As relief assistance continues in Haiti, agencies are asking people for money, not material goods, to keep those efforts going. Most organizations will use the money donated to purchase immediate needs, such as water, food, shelter and medical supplies.

These agencies have set up phone lines, online donation pages and even texting for individuals to contribute to their relief efforts. We've compiled a list of a few organizations who are in Haiti helping those in need.

These resources include the highest-rated charities by which is an independent, nonprofit organization that evaluates charity groups based on effectiveness and financial stability. These sites are vetted by CNN journalists for credibility.

Click here for other links to help the people of Haiti.

Click here for a link to the Clinton Bush Haiti fund to donate money to help the people of Haiti.

Click here for a link to America to donate money to help the people of Haiti.

Click here for a link to the American Jewish World Service to donate money to the people of Haiti.

Click here for a link to to donate money to help the people of Haiti.

Click here for links to Habitat for to donate money to help the people of Haiti.

Dear Friends,

(I apologized in advance if you receive multiple copies of this email, or if you received this accidentally. I quickly combined several mailing lists. I am also sending this to news organizations so that they know what is happening with our organization.)

As many of you know, I (Tom Spontelli) traveled to Haiti four months ago in the Fall of 2009 to help a NGO with school construction. Many of you who supported this project have been anxious for news about the children, staff, and volunteers that you have helped to support. I am sorry that it has taken me so long to get you the info, but communications have not flowed easily out of the capital.

The schools that our organization has constructed are one story buildings with ceilings, walls, floors and foundations of poured reinforced concrete. Many of you donated money to these efforts. I am very pleased to inform that the schools that we have built have withstood the earthquakes without injuries, fatalities, or damage. The staff, the orphans residing at the schools, and children who were at the school in Port au Prince at the time are without injury! Unfortunately, things are much MUCH worse outside the compound.

The “disaster resistant” buildings were built for “dual-use” so that they could also be used as community disaster shelters in time of emergency or natural disaster. Well, this is one of those times! The well-built school that I worked on in Anse-a-Pitre, Haiti, (and that many of you donated money for) is now functioning as a shelter for refugee orphans from Port au Prince, who no longer have any family members to take care of them. They will remain there until the situation in Port au Prince is resolved. Orphans from Port au Prince are in transit as we speak.

The school in Port au Prince was built on the border of the largest and poorest slum in Port au Prince, which (at the best of times) is the most crowded and desperate city in Haiti, the poorest country in our hemisphere. That school was built there because that is where it was most needed.

Now, Port au Prince, is in ruins and the situation is becoming desperate.

I have included a recent email from one of the school’s volunteers, Amber Munger, who is on the ground in Haiti. Amber is trying to coordinate long term relief efforts on the ground in Port au Prince. Amber works with Ananda Marga, the international organization of which Puerto Rico’s Fundacion NeoHumanista is a part.

Since her email came in, we have found a way to safely transfer funds from the Puerto Rico foundation into the hands of her organization in the streets of Port au Prince. We are sending people’s donations directly to the workers on the ground in Haiti. Over 95% of any money you donate will go directly to this organization’sw work on Haiti relief in 24 hours, to Amber and her “Ananda Marga” and Fundacion Neo-Humanista colleagues.

Those of you who know me personally and wish to do so can drop off money directly at my restaurant (Natural High Café in Aguadilla) which will be deposited in the bank account of Fundacion NeoHumanista. You can make checks payable to Fundacion NeoHumanista, or can deposit donations directly into their Western bank account number: #2204004133.

We will also be setting up a paypal donation page this weekend, so that you can make direct deposits into the Foundations Account. This webpage will also have the NPO certificates on file and you will be able to get a receipt.
Thank you for your time and concern. I would also like to thank those who donated money in the past, it was your donations that helped us build strong buildings that saved lives of Haitian children. You are my hero!

All the best,

Tom Spontelli

(Pictures of my fall trip are available at Flickr The Puerto Rican branch of this organization is called El Fundacion Neo-Huminista (The Neo Humanist Foundation) which is a secular charity organization dedicated to doing good works normally done by church groups. (Neo-Humanism: “Be good for goodness sake.”) Ananda Marga is an amazing international organization based out of India dedicated to the betterment of all living things through the practices of yoga, meditation, education and physical acts of charity.

Hi everyone,

Thank you for your powerful and affirming support.

Communications from the school and volunteers is very difficult. The most that we are able to get is a one or two minute phone call from the director of the School over a bad staticky connection before it is lost.

Here is the latest news (as far as we can make out from our last call): The school in Port au Prince (Bourdon) is now an emergency relief center and is located in next the worst slum in Port au Prince. This emergency center and its volunteers have served over 10,000 hot meals. There is also a doctor at the center providing emergency medical services. Unfortunately, as of this morning, their stockpiled food supply is running out.

We have had even more distressing news this evening. Their reserves of water will run out in the next day or so. There is an amazing amount of work being done here, but the well-prepared resources are running low. There are water resources in the area but purification equipment is needed. (I have heard that the stench of death from the collapsed buildings around the school is becoming very powerful and the danger to the groundwater increases daily.)

Cash donations are needed, but we also need volunteers to work the phones and send emails trying to get supplies and equipment to the School Emergency Relief Center. We have spent today contacting any organization with supplies on the ground to get them to the school to serve the most desperate slum in the city. If you have time to volunteer from you home, contact me and you can help us hunt down aid and supplies for the school. We have contacted all the major group bringing in supplies, and we are told, “we are told that the information will be passed on.” We need individuals to act as point persons working with each agencies making sure supplies are delivered. We also need volunteers to hunt down contact information for journalists and news producers on the ground in Haiti and get them to the school to shine a spotlight on where resources are needed. You can help hunt down and contact smaller charities that are raising money for Haiti Relief and channel those resources to this emergency disaster center. You can help us hound government leaders in the US and PR and get supplies to this location. There are many specific jobs you can do from your home that may save thousands of lives in the next few days.

This is doable and does work.

This is an amazing group volunteers in Haiti who are doing a phenomenal job of serving the neediest in the absolutely most desperate part of the poorest city in our hemisphere at its darkest hour. They need your help.

You can absolutely make a difference and save lives by volunteering your time or donating cash.

Contact me if you are good at making phone calls or surfing the web and emailing. We need your help.

Cash is also desperately needed to get equipment to help this center serve thousands of hurt and desperate people. Hilda Rojas, Director of “Fundacion NeoHumanista” in PR has found a way to safely transfer funds from the Puerto Rico NeoHumanist Foundation into the hands of Amber’s organization in the streets of Port au Prince. You can make checks payable to Fundacion NeoHumanista, or can deposit donations directly into their Western bank account number: #2204004133.

Here is the physical address of the school-turned-relief-center:

Ecole Ananda Marga

Rue Garnier,
Impasse Dumond,
Port au Prince, Haiti

phone 509-3734-7943

Please contact me if you can help.

All the best,
Tom Spontelli

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Five Months of Restoration at Playa Marias

Below is a movie created and edited by a chapter volunteer Tsunami Ortiz. The photos and video used in the movie were taken at each of the events. The first event was on August 24th when a dedicated group of volunteers installed 4 of 12 new trash barrels at Playa Marias. The next event was on September 18th, 2009, when a large group of volunteers cleaned the beach and cut down weeds in collaboration with Scuba Dogs. The third event was a shrub/tree planting event on October 24th which amounted in the development of 3 planting beds where over 75 shrubs were planted. A week later the chapter paid for the parking lot to be fixed; $600 dollars went towards fixing the upper and lower portion of the lot using 'tosque.' The last two events were maintenance days on November 11th, and December 19th, 2009. After five months and 7 events the parking lot and coastal area at Playa Marias is looking very sharp. Watch the movie below to see all the dedicated volunteers who helped make it possible.

The next event at Playa Marias is on Saturday, January 23rd, 2010. The event will begin at 8:00 am and go until 12:00 pm. At this event we will be fixing the stakes and string around the beds, watering the plants, pulling weeds, mulching, and cleaning the beach. For more information feel free to email us at Come help make a difference!