In the interest of promoting sustainable development of the fishing industry in Boquerón and providing a safe environment for fishermen, FirstBank has made a donation to the Asociación Pescadería Villa Palmeras Inc. fishing association to help complete the reconstruction of their pier, which was declared a total loss after Hurricanes Irma and María.
The fishing village which has operated the Boquerón Beach facilities in the town of Cabo Rojo since 1972, processes some 200 pounds of fresh fish and shellfish for sale at its café, to the public, and to local restaurants.
“As a bank, we are committed to the communities we serve. During the period when the pier was not operating, the fishermen, their families, and volunteer personnel were affected financially,” said Catherine Ríos, community relations and reinvestment officer at FirstBank.
“Our donation helped complete the reconstruction of the pier, which is used by fishermen to unload their catch and load equipment. This initiative allowed us to contribute to the fishing industry in the western part of the island,” she said.
The restoration consisted of rebuilding the pier platform, using more resistant materials such as treated wood and PVC pipes inserted in existing pilings, to avoid impacting the sea floor.
In addition, the pilings were raised two feet as a preventive measure, so that they can resist the pounding of the waves during a natural disaster and avoid damage to the structure.
“As an association, we seek to support and sponsor fishermen. The Pescadería is self-sufficient and reinvests its revenue in the fishermen and in the maintenance of its facilities but, during catastrophic events such as hurricanes Irma and María, we require financial assistance to repair damages,” said Geovani Ojeda, president of Asociación Pescadería de Villa Palmeras Inc.
The group went on to thank FirstBank, the Paloma del Carmen Relief Fund from Chicago, the Conservación ConCiencia foundation, Jeff Haley, the Puerto Rico Department of Agriculture and the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources for contributing to rebuild the pier and structures.