Congress asked to fund construction of expanded Guam Fishermen’s Co-op facility

For more than four decades, the Fishermen's Co-op has been operating in a Hagatna facility in need of a full renovation. (PNC photo)

Several years ago, a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new Fishermen’s Co-op facility but the project has been delayed for various reasons. The Co-op also needs to secure additional funding to fulfill its vision of an expanded facility.

For more than four decades, the Fishermen’s Co-op has been operating in a Hagatna facility in need of a full renovation.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Legislature passed laws to provide funding for the construction of the facility, including plans for an expansion of a new and safer fueling pier and docks for commercial boats.

Speaker Therese Terlaje says it has been the longstanding mission of the Fishermen’s Co-op to build the facility and plans for the facility were drafted in 2005.

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In 2017, groundbreaking for the facility was finally held. However, the pandemic and other issues, including funding shortfalls, derailed the start of the project.

Monday night, the Legislature held a hearing for Resolution 63-36, which requests the U.S. Congress to support community project funding for the construction of the expanded Guam Fishermen’s Co-op facility. The resolution was introduced by Speaker Terlaje.

“The project has been delayed by various challenges, which include necessary design changes to comply with flood zone regulations to address poor soil conditions near the sea wall which have significantly raised the cost of completing the project as well as delays from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Terlaje said.

On Feb 26, 2021, the US House Appropriations Committee announced that it would be accepting requests for community project funding in appropriation bills for FY2022.

Guam congressman Michael FQ San Nicolas says he intends to request for funding to assist the Co-op in completing the construction of its new facility.

At the hearing Monday night, Joaquin Flores, a member of the Co-op board and chairperson of the committee overseeing the project, mentioned what the Co-op needs for the project.

So far, he said the Co-op committee has secured $3 million from GEDA from the Hotel Occupancy Tax.  In addition, the Port Authority of Guam has committed $995,000 for the construction of the seawall.

According to Flores, construction will be done in phases. The current funds will be for phases 1a and 1b, which includes the construction of the seawall, seafood handling and receiving dock processing room as well as cold storage, and fuel pump monitoring room.

When the Co-op secures additional funding, Flores said they would be able to proceed to phase 3

“The grand total for the project is $6.8 million dollars of which $3 million is already funded,” he said.

Aside from the construction of the sea wall and a building for the Co-op operations, the Co-op plans to construct a maritime learning and training center, vendor spaces for tenants, and space for product development of local fish stocks.