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FEMA is distributing grants for Puerto Rican fishermen whose sites were destroyed due to Hurricane Maria. Photo: depositphotos
FEMA is distributing grants for Puerto Rican fishermen whose sites were destroyed due to Hurricane Maria. Photo: depositphotos

Finally, hope for fishermen in Puerto Rico to the tune of $1.8 million from FEMA

Before Hurricane Maria, there were more than 44 fishing villages across Puerto Rico. Now there are no more than 20.

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On Jan. 15, FEMA announced that it would provide $1.8 million in grants for fishermen in Puerto Rico, who have been struggling since the devastation of Hurricane Maria in Sept 2017.

There are nearly 1,000 fishermen that operate off of Puerto Rico, and fishing is the only source of income they have.

The industry is also key to the economic and agricultural health of many coastal communities.

“Fishing is a vital link in the food supply chain on the island and the improvements that will be made will provide an opportunity to take advantage of the resources of our coasts,” said José Baquero Tirado, the Federal Disaster Coordinator for Puerto Rico.

FEMA has agreed to give funding to the island’s infrastructure, which will go to four main fishing areas in the island: La Coal Fishing Village in Old San Juan, Maunabo Fishing Village, El Maní Fishing Village in Mayagüez, and Guayama Fishing Village.

Funding will also go towards maintaining Punta Tuna Lighthouse in Maunabo.

In 2018, local fishermen contributed almost $300,000 to the island’s economy, making fishing one of the main sources of wealth for Puerto Rico.

An estimated 1.7 million pounds of fish and around 963,200 pounds of seafood were reported to be caught.

“With this obligation from FEMA, aimed for the recovery and reactivation of the fishing villages, we will mitigate one of the sectors that were most affected by past atmospheric events,” said Ramón González Beiró, secretary of Puerto Rico’s Department of Agriculture.

Before Hurricane Maria, there were more than 44 fishing villages on the island, and now there are only around 20 that are operating full or part-time.

Almost two years after the hurricane devastated the island, President Trump announced via Twitter that the island had received $91 billion.

But that number was false.

The actual amount received was $15 billion, and a large majority of that money went to electrical repairs.

Manuel Laboy Rivera, executive director of the Central Recovery and Reconstruction Office of Puerto Rico, (COR3) has expressed gratitude and relief for the fishermen community in Puerto Rico.

“This federal obligation represents an important support for the fishing sector of the island, which has great development potential, not only in financial growth but also on the sustainable food industry,” Rivera said.

He is excited to see what small businesses in Puerto Rico will look like going forward with the grants.

“This opportunity has a great impact on local businesses and restaurants, as well as in the tourism industry and our communities,” he said.

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