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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

$6 million in FEMA funds to revive Maricao fish hatchery


The Fish Hatchery in Maricao is considered one of the southwestern municipality’s main attractions due to the large number of species that are raised and then relocated to bodies of fresh water throughout the island.

By The Star Staff


The Fish Hatchery in Maricao will have a new op-portunity to continue cultivating fish species that sustain the population of aquatic life in Puerto Rico’s reservoirs.


The hatchery facilities, which are part of the National Register of Historic Places, will be repaired with over $6 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).


The hatchery is considered one of the southwestern municipality’s main attractions due to the large number of species that are raised and then relocated to the island’s mountain rivers. Its annual production of largemouth bass ranged from 50,000 to 200,000 fish per year.


The funds allocated to the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) will address some of the damage that has kept the hatchery closed to the public since Hurricane Maria. The gazebos, dike walls and the main drainage channel will be replaced, including the cleaning and unclogging of drainage pipes.


“This is the only state government facility dedicated to the m“The hatchery has been instrumental in the devel-opment of Puerto Rico’s freshwater fisheries,” she said. “More than collaborating in the introduction of fish, it has been key in sustaining and maintaining healthy fish populations that are already established.”


Olmeda added that prior to Hurricane Maria, the Maricao hatchery was considered one of the best and most modern in the Caribbean, and its historic production of fish was transferred to the various reservoirs on the island. In addition, the group working at the hatchery was able to produce pure Florida largemouth bass, which are more resistant to the island’s temperatures and live longer.


Maricao Mayor Wilfredo Ruiz said the aquatic nursery has been an icon of the municipality, particularly between the 1980s and early 2000s.


“The Fish Hatchery was the main attraction for tourism in Maricao,” he said. “As people came to see it, it moved the economy by boosting the patronage of businesses and restaurants in the area. There were many businesses that closed because of the lack of activity due to the closure of the fish hatchery.”


The mayor added that with the funds allocated from FEMA, the nursery will benefit sport fishing while it will also serve as a space for collaboration on research projects for science fairs organized by colleges and universities in Puerto Rico and abroad.aintenance and preservation of diverse fish in all of Puerto Rico,” federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator José G. Baquero said. “This is why FEMA supports the renovation of the hatchery, which fosters scientific research related to aquaculture and in turn has an economic impact on the municipality.”


Biologist María Olmeda, who leads the hatchery project for the DNER, noted that before Hurricane Ma-ria, fish “farming” was done in almost all of the island’s reservoirs.


“The hatchery has been instrumental in the devel-opment of Puerto Rico’s freshwater fisheries,” she said. “More than collaborating in the introduction of fish, it has been key in sustaining and maintaining healthy fish populations that are already established.”


Olmeda added that prior to Hurricane Maria, the Maricao hatchery was considered one of the best and most modern in the Caribbean, and its historic production of fish was transferred to the various reservoirs on the island. In addition, the group working at the hatchery was able to produce pure Florida largemouth bass, which are more resistant to the island’s temperatures and live longer.


Maricao Mayor Wilfredo Ruiz said the aquatic nursery has been an icon of the municipality, particularly between the 1980s and early 2000s.


“The Fish Hatchery was the main attraction for tourism in Maricao,” he said. “As people came to see it, it moved the economy by boosting the patronage of businesses and restaurants in the area. There were many businesses that closed because of the lack of activity due to the closure of the fish hatchery.”


The mayor added that with the funds allocated from FEMA, the nursery will benefit sport fishing while it will also serve as a space for collaboration on research projects for science fairs organized by colleges and universities in Puerto Rico and abroad.

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