Town of Loíza explores benefits of ‘Blue Economy’ to support job creation
The coastal town of Loíza has launched a new economic development initiative to educate its entrepreneurs about the blue economy’s benefits.
“What’s known as the blue economy is economic development in different ways, such as tourism and gastronomy, among others,” said Loíza Mayor Julia Nazario. “In a certain sense, it’s what we have been doing all our lives in Loíza through fishing and small agriculture. It’s the use of the sea and water resources for economic growth, job creation and the protection of ecosystems.”
At the event, held at the Loíza Municipal Library, several presentations were made by officials of the Puerto Rico Department of Housing about the effective utilization of Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Relief (CDBG-DR) funds, as well as talks by the entity Ortiz, Lord, Hope & Associates with specialists in the subject.
“We’re a vulnerable island, but we’re also resilient,” said María de los Ángeles Ortiz, president of Ortiz, Lord, Hope & Associates. “We have already demonstrated it, and today we have the opportunity in Loíza to celebrate this event that we have already presented in Arecibo and Camuy, among other places. The idea is to explore entrepreneurship and generate wealth, taking care of the environment, our land and our ocean.”
Data show that “60% of the blue economy is related to tourism, 18% to the economy of the sea such as fishing and gastronomy, where 22% pertains to other initiatives and jobs. There are great opportunities for our entrepreneurs,” Nazario said.
Several successful examples of companies based on the blue economy were presented during the event, such as Pirate Snorkeling Shack, a company owned by Héctor Orta and Corales Encarnación, a couple who developed an initiative that started from scratch, offering diving rental services in Seven Seas Beach since May 2013.
“We started with a $1,000 that we had in the bank, and we decided to do it, and we managed to work on what was related to the permits and with an old kayak and living in Humacao, we were going to Fajardo to offer our services,” recalled Orta. “That’s how we started and that’s how we’ve managed to make our dream come true.”
“It was the absence of a stable economy that drove us,” Encarnación added.
Today, they offer their services near the Las Cabezas de San Juan Natural Reserve in Fajardo and are certified by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company as a nautical and sustainable tourism entity. They have also expanded their offerings to include boat tours.