Puerto Rico's Coastal Program was approved by NOAA in 1978 and is comprised of a network of agencies with authority in the coastal zone. The Department of Natural and Environmental Resources serves as the lead agency and is responsible for managing the maritime zone, coastal waters, and submerged lands. The Puerto Rico Planning Board serves as the primary agency for managing coastal development. Other Commonwealth agencies that are part of the Coastal Program include the Environmental Quality Board, Regulations and Permits Administration, Department of Recreation and Sports, National Park Company, Department of Agriculture, and Institute of Puerto Rican Culture. Puerto Rico's coastal zone generally extends 1000 meters (one kilometer) inland, but extends further inland in places to include important coastal resources.
Puerto Rico balances the management of cultural and historical resources, intense coastal development pressure, and an outstanding array of natural ecosystems, including mangroves, wetlands, coral reefs, beaches, and coastal forests.Puerto Rico contains approximately 700 miles of coastline. The Commonwealth features coastal ecosystems such as beaches, bioluminescent bays, coral reefs, and mangrove lagoons. Puerto Rico’s diverse habitats support an abundance of marine life, including a variety of threatened and endangered species. Challenges in managing its coastal program include sedimentation, erosion, coastal hazards, and illegal use of the island's maritime zone. Major economic activities involve shipping, tourism, and agriculture.