"Prohibiting purse seining within Panamanian waters is historic, and sets the standard for all other nations in Central America for advancing the conservation of billfish and other highly migratory fish. The Panamanian people have an amazing opportunity for economic growth by utilizing their coastal resources for the benefit of both the Panamanian people and the environment. Anglers are key catalysts of marine conservation and this act will attract sportfishing tourists from around the world to Panama."
- Chris Fischer is the Founder of OCEARCH, a non-profit organization with a global reach for unprecedented research on the ocean's giants.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Panama is first Central American country to prohibit purse seining within its waters.
PANAMA CITY, Panama and FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla., USA - The Billfish Foundation and OCEARCH applaud Panama for becoming the first of the seven nations of Central America to prohibit purse seining in its waters. This action follows Panama's signing on to an agreement that urges all of the nations to create appropriate sustainable management plans for billfish and other popular game fish vital to growing sportfishing and tourism in the region.
On July 15, 2010, Republic of Panama President Ricardo Martinelli and Minister of Agriculture Emilio Kieswetter established new fishing policies by signing executive decree No. 239, which prohibits tuna purse-seining in Panamanian waters. President Martinelli noted, "We are committed to promoting sustainable and responsible fishing. We understand the economic need for protecting our marine resources and the importance of sustainable fisheries as a natural resource for our country's development."
Chris Fischer, board member of The Billfish Foundation (TBF), and founder of OCEARCH said, "The action of Panama's President Martinelli and Minister Kieswetter to prohibit purse seining within Panamanian waters is historic and sets Panama above all other nations in Central America in advancing the conservation of billfish and other highly migratory fish. Anglers are key catalysts of marine conservation and this act will attract sportfishing tourists from around the world to Panama."
In early 2009, TBF, through an agreement with the Organization of Fisheries and Aquaculture for the Isthmus of Central America (OSPESCA), developed a management plan for sportfishing throughout Central America. The plan seeks to assist each nation in developing appropriate national conservation goals to enhance sportfishing tourism in the region. Included within that plan are directives to establish a recreational fishing monitoring and data collection program throughout the region, using TBF tags and catch reports. That goal is to establish some important statistics for decision makers so they can better understand the dynamics of sportfishing as an important economic tool compatible with conservation.
The Panamanian executive decree comes on the heels of similar on-going work by TBF to enhance recreational sportfishing in the countries of Mexico, Peru and Costa Rica. TBF has been working with the governments - some for over a decade - for the expansion of conservation measures and laws to protect billfish, mainly from overfishing coastal fisheries by commercial interests, while implementing tag and release programs for sportsmen.
"The tuna purse-seiners, particularly those fishing on fish aggregating devices (FADS) can have high rates of bycatch of billfish, dorado, wahoo, sharks, turtles and other marine life," said Ellen Peel, president of The Billfish Foundation, adding, "in recent years we have seen purse seine vessels 'set' around sportfishing boats as they pursue tunas, a very dangerous practice and one that is bad for tourism. Panama's prohibition sends a loud and clear message that the Panamanian government is in favor of sustainable and responsible fishing with the objective of balancing of commercial tuna harvest with sportfishing and tourism. Panama has the potential to become one of the most popular sportfishing destinations in the world."
TBF surveys have documented that angling tourists prefer to travel to fish in waters of nations supporting strong conservation because it generates the high catch rates essential to attracting anglers in the vey competitive international market.
"We have worked closely with Panama and have been continually impressed with the level of commitment within the Martinelli Administration to protect Panama's robust marine resources," said Matt Shilling, president of OCEARCH.
Dr. Russell Nelson, TBF's chief scientist added, "Moving the large scale industrial purse seine vessels outside of domestic waters will allow for continuing harvest of tuna by commercial interests while letting local abundance of billfish, dorado and other species increase and trigger corresponding increases in economic and social value as the responsible practice of sportfishing ethics and conservation are fostered."
Peel added, "We and all sportfishermen, thank and support the Martinelli administration for this new decree and encourage him to continue his efforts in the sustainable management of marine resources so the sportfishing industry can continue to grow and provide jobs and economic opportunities to benefit Panamanians of present and future generations."
Established in 1986 by the late Winthrop P. Rockefeller, The Billfish Foundation is the only non-profit organization dedicated solely to conserving and enhancing billfish populations worldwide. With world headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., USA, TBF's comprehensive network of members and supporters includes anglers, captains, mates, tournament directors, clubs, and sportfishing and tourism businesses. By coordinating efforts and speaking with one voice, the organization works for solutions that are good for billfish, not punitive to recreational anglers and good for the local economy. TBF's website is billfish.org and its phone number in the
United States is 800-438-8247 or 954-938-0150. Ms. Peel can be reached at ext. 108.
OCEARCH is a non-profit organization with a global reach for unprecedented research on the ocean's giants. OCEARCH believes in the social, economic, and environmental benefits of sustainable fisheries management while protecting sportfishing access. OCEARCH's website isOCEARCH.org. Mr. Shilling can be reached at 202-470-6358 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2010-2015 OCEARCH, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED