The Dominican Republic makes up the larger, eastern part of the island of Hispaniola. Mountainous, it has considerable riverine runoff. Fringing reefs and small barrier reefs are scattered along 170 kilometers of a coastline  that stretches for 1,532 kilometers.  Given the coastal profile, the depth of the ocean platform, and the proximity of large rivers draining extensive watersheds delivering freshwater and sediments,  reef growth is limited. The Montecristi region on the northern coast has the country’s largest barrier reef formation, with a length of 64 km.  Reef development is less extensive along the south coast, but there is some in the east on the mainland and the neighboring Isla Saona. Around Santo Domingo there are small reefs on narrow platforms, and there are some in the far south of the country around Jaragua National Park.  Important reef complexes are also found on large offshore banks-La Navidad and La Palta-situated 140 km to the north of the country.
The Reefs at Risk analysis identifies over 80 percent of the Dominican Republic reefs to be threatened by human activities. Most reefs are threatened by multiple sources. The predicted threat from fishing pressure affects nearly 80 percent of reefs. Widespread unemployment, densely populated coastal zones, easy access, and narrow shelf areas mean that the reef resources have been heavily used to provide a livelihood and sustenance. Artisanal overfishing is one of the major problems affecting the recovery of the Dominican reefs,  and all commercially important species have been depleted. Illegal fishing activities are common. In some cases, chemical poisons such as bleach are used to catch fish.  The capacity for enforcing the regulations is limited,  and because of the lack of regulation, the international trade in conch from the Dominican Republic is banned by the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). Mass tourism in the country has brought swelling coastal populations and unmanaged coastal development affecting over half of the reefs. Reliance on agriculture for livelihoods and export earnings from sugar, coffee, bananas, and tobacco has led to land clearing and poor agricultural practices that are delivering increased sediment and pollution to the coastal zone, threatening around 45 percent of the reefs. Marine-based sources threaten 10 percent.
The local reefs face large impacts and threats from a steadily growing tourism industry. For example, in a 30-km stretch of coast bordering the Macao-Bavaro-Punta Cana Barrier Reef, about 11,000 hotel rooms have been constructed.  The reef of Boca Chica, the country’s longest-studied reef, is subject to intense pressure from a 3-km stretch of coast that hosts 150,000 permanent residents and 5,000 hotel rooms.  Recent development for tourism along shallow (3-10 m), less disturbed coasts away from rivers has destroyed mangroves and wetlands, thus removing natural sediment traps and bringing nutrient pollution. 
Hurricanes and tropical storms are frequent for the Caribbean southern coast but rarely affect the Atlantic northern coast. The reefs are affected not only by the physical impact but also by the subsequent excessive runoff exacerbated by deforestation of the nearby watersheds.  Other natural disturbances to reefs include coral bleaching, which has been found mainly in areas near urban development.  The incidence of coral bleaching in 2001 and 2002 was low, and most corals affected seem to have recovered. 
As part of the country’s conservation efforts, three relatively large coastal/marine protected areas have been established, Montecristi, del Este, and Jaragua. They include large tracks of coral reefs in good natural condition, but they are under fishing pressure. Most activities having an impact on reefs in the Dominican Republic reefs are prohibited or regulated by Dominican laws, but lack of political and financial support to achieve the proper enforcement is lacking.  Tourism may prove to be the best incentive for effective management, and some coastal resorts have adopted reef areas close to their sites for conservation (e.g., installed fish attraction devices to assist the local fishermen). 
 M. Spalding et al., World Atlas of Coral Reefs (Berkeley, California: University of California Press and UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Center, 2001), p. 150
 F.X. Geraldes, “The Coral Reefs of the Dominican Republic,” in Latin American Coral Reefs. J. Cort