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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Lawmaker makes call to recover yolas left on island shores

Rep. José “Che” Pérez Cordero

By The Star Staff

At-large Rep. José “Che” Pérez Cordero announced Monday that he will be contacting U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to initiate a program to recover yolas, as well as other vessels used to transport people with undefined immigration status and then abandoned on the island’s shores, particularly in the west and northwest.

Pérez also said he will be meeting with Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER) Secretary Anaís Rodríguez Vega to evaluate possible actions to begin the collection of the vessels given the possible environmental impact of their deterioration on the coasts.

“This is a situation that we have been monitoring very closely for some time,” the lawmaker said. “On the coasts of Puerto Rico, especially in those of the western and northwestern municipalities, this is an issue that impacts the environment, since most of these boats are boats made of fiberglass, an element that usually stays in the sea and has the potential to harm the marine ecosystem.”

There is also the danger the abandoned vessels represent for bathers, and people who practice water sports such as kayaking and surfing, among others, Pérez noted.

“Therefore, in the coming days we will be requesting an urgent meeting with the directors of the Customs and Border Protection office to establish the parameters of a program to identify these vessels and remove them as soon as possible,” he said. “We will also summon the DNER secretary to see how she can help. The problem cannot continue. According to several reports, more than 30 yolas and/or boats are floating adrift or stranded on the coasts of the northeast region, causing a serious environmental hazard. It is not only the fiberglass, but, as environmental groups have also indicated, it is the oil and gasoline that they carry with them that represents a danger to nature. Removal must be a priority.”

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