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Surfrider Puerto Rico Presents at Capitol Hill Ocean Week

Surfrider joined with the Hispanic Access Foundation and other partners to advocate for federal leadership on climate change and ocean protection in Puerto Rico and beyond. 

Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW) is an annual gathering of ocean protection leaders in DC to examine and advocate for current marine, coastal and Great Lakes policy solutions. This year, the Surfrider Foundation’s Puerto Rico Programs Manager, Hector Varela-Velez, participated in panel discussions with the Hispanic Access Foundation as part of the "Waves and Action" initiative. Both organizations presented on the effects of climate change in Puerto Rico and the importance of nature-based solutions and community involvement.  

Additionally, Hector met with Puerto Rican congressional representatives to advocate for solutions to critical coastal and ocean issues in Puerto Rico. Surfrider and the Hispanic Access Foundation recently established petitions to the federal agencies that have jurisdiction in Puerto Rico to take action on the pertinent and particular situations that are happening in the coasts of the Island.


Convened by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation every June, CHOW brings together scientists, business leaders, policy makers, academics and the public to discuss pressing science, conservation and management issues. Surfrider’s featured role at 2023 Capitol Hill Ocean Week is a reflection of the outstanding efforts of our staff and volunteers in Puerto Rico.

There are many communities across the U.S. that are fighting for the protection and conservation of coastal resources in the face of climate change. These threats to coastal resources are perhaps greater in U.S. territories like Puerto Rico than anywhere else in the country. Unfortunately, U.S. territories have generally not received the same level of federal support as coastal states, underscoring the need for engagement with national leaders.

Echoing the theme of the week, National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Vice President of External Affairs Shannon Colbert stated, "A thriving ocean of the future requires that we address climate change head-on and that ocean and coastal communities are at the center of all national climate strategies.” Colbert further proclaimed that in order to sustain life on Earth, the ocean is critical.

There are clearly opportunities to advance ocean conservation and sustainable economic development. However, success will depend on an effective response to climate change and putting marine management at the forefront of climate change policy. It will also depend on strong collaboration between federal, state and territorial governments and the communities on the front lines of these impacts.

Surfrider Foundation expresses our gratitude to the Hispanic Access Foundation and National Ocean Protection Coalition for supporting our participation in CHOW. To learn more about Surfrider’s work in Puerto Rico, please visit our Instagram page.