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New Coiba sport fishing bill. Representatives from Panama’s sport fishing, commercial fishing, tourism industry and artisanal fishing, are being called upon by ARAP (Panama Aquatic Resources Authority) to help that government organization to develop a self-funded and sustainable plan to enforce rules controlling depletion of Panama’s waters and encouraging fish sustainability. The goal is to protect the World Heritage Site status of Coiba National Park.
Recently Ivan E. Flores, General Administrator of ARAP, gave a presentation about this subject asking the sport-fishing community, tourism industry and anyone who has a business related to the sport-fishing industry to give their opinion.
Present at the meeting were representatives from the Ministry of the Environment, the major hotels and most of the fishing lodges in Chiriqui, as well as Jan Tapia, owner of Alta Pesca Tackle Shop, John Maynard, founder of the Panama Marine Resource Foundation, and Robert Novey, President of the Central American Bill Fish Association CABA.
“There is a commission that’s working on a study to propose a Management Plan for Coiba and its Marine Special Protection Zone (Hannibal Bank and Montuosa Island),” said Tapia, “Panama is long overdue in implementing this plan, which was an obligation established by UNESCO when Coiba was declared a World Heritage Site.”
Tapia added that “as a result, Coiba’s status as a World Heritage Status is at risk as some initial studies have shown increased pressure from commercial and recreational fishing and lack of effective regulations regarding property.”
ARAP is proposing a bill to regulate sport-fishing and tourism activity related to this sport in Panama. “We are consulting the different people involved in the sector to come up with new legislation. We are also establishing workgroups to make modifications to existing regulation for the longlining fleet,” explained Tapia.
According to the ARAP website, the objective of this first worktable was to listen to the concerns and demands of those dedicated to sports tourism and recreational fishing after the disclosure of the General Law of Fisheries bill which aims to modify the current law which dates from 1959.
New Coiba sport fishing bill: Coiba National Park is comprised of a group of 38 islands including Coiba Island and the water surrounding them covers 430,825 acres
“For the last three and a half years, I have been compiling catch reports from seven of the nine major fishing lodges in Panama. These are the kind of statistics ARAP is looking for as a basis for its bill to ensure fishing sustainability and protect Coiba National Park,” said Maynard.
“We need to enforce the existing laws. There is a way to generate the necessary funds by creating a licensing fee for foreign anglers who come to the country as well as controlling the catch size and species and setting fishing seasons. ARAP will propose this to the National Assembly, but we, in the fishing and tourism industries, have to help develop the best plan to be submitted,” said Maynard.
“We need to get all sectors involved to convey the message to the government – ARAP, Ministry of the Environment (MIAMBIENTE) and Panama Tourism Authority (ATP) – that our marine resources are at risk from commercial overfishing. Sport-fishing is a viable, sustainable and more beneficial alternative to commercial fishing,” said Tapia.