1.         Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection (Panama) (N 1138rev)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  2005

Criteria  (ix)(x)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1138/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1138/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

Total amount granted: USD350,000 for management planning, installation of mooring buoys for diving boats, working with local communities, capacity building, public use planning and improved stakeholder understanding of legal protection measures

Previous monitoring missions

January 2014: joint World Heritage Centre/ IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1138/

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2016

On 27 November 2015, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, which is available at https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1138/documents/, and provides the following information:

On 11 March 2016, the State Party submitted additional information, namely a copy of the resolution adopted by the Ministry of Environment which authorizes the removal of livestock from Coiba Island and requests the relevant authorities to develop and implement a work plan for these activities.

On 13 April 2016, the State Party provided additional details on the project aimed at assessing fishing activities and development of management actions for the main artisanal, commercial and sport fisheries in the SZMP. It also states that the development of the PUP for the property is in its final stages.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

The measures undertaken by the State Party to implement the recommendations of the 2014 mission are welcomed. 

The resolution adopted recently by the Ministry of Environment to authorize the removal of livestock from Coiba Island is welcomed, but given the slow progress in addressing this issue to date and the delay of the previous timeframe proposed by the State Party, the prompt identification of a timeframe for its implementation by the State Party is imperative.

The decision to develop a PUP for the property to identify its carrying capacity and the limits of acceptable change is noted. However, no detailed information on the Plan has been provided. While development of such a Plan would be important in order to ensure that public use, particularly tourism activities, are strictly regulated, it is unclear to what extent this Plan can address the Committee’s request to ensure that no development will be permitted within the property and that cumulative impacts on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) caused by mainland developments are effectively addressed.

While the communication between the staff of the Coiba National Park and the military personnel at the naval base is noted, no specific information was provided by the State Party on the implementation of biosafety measures for the base.

The progress indicated on establishing fisheries regulations within the SZMP is noted. However, it should be recalled that the Committee, in its Decision 38 COM 7B.84, expressed its concern about the negative impacts of fisheries and that the 2014 mission concluded that fisheries, in particular illegal and sport fisheries, posed a threat to the property’s OUV. The measures reported by the State Party to address the issue, and the announced project on assessing fishing activities and development of management actions for the main fisheries in the SZMP are welcomed but will not be sufficient to fully address the impacts of fisheries on the property. Recalling that the completion and implementation of the management plan for the SZMP was a key request of the Committee in Decision 38 COM 7B.84, significant additional measures in the framework of a consolidated management response are required, in line with the detailed recommendations made by the 2014 mission, in order to fully address the issue. In the absence of significant progress, it is considered that the threat posed by unregulated fishing would represent a potential danger to the OUV of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines.

A number of significant institutional changes have recently been introduced in Panama, particularly the establishment of the Ministry of Environment in 2015. The Aquatic Resources Authority is undergoing restructuring and the validity of the management plan for Coiba National Park has been extended and is currently undergoing a revision. Despite these institutional changes, it will be crucial to prevent further delays in the implementation of the Committee’s requests and to ensure that key measures are undertaken, such as the revision and implementation of the management plan for the property, elaboration and implementation of a comprehensive legislation on fisheries, development of clear regulations that would ensure that no coastal development is permitted within the boundaries of the property and the operationalization of the Coiba fund.  The continuous absence of these key legislative and management instruments will constitute a clear potential danger to the OUV and integrity of the property.  Given the lack of significant progress in addressing previous Committee requests, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to invite an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to evaluate the impacts of unregulated fishing, assess progress with the implementation of the 2014 mission recommendations and provide technical advice to the State Party on the urgent implementation of the outstanding recommendations in the context of the new institutional framework for the property.

Decision Adopted: 40 COM 7B.76

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/16/40.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 38 COM 7B.84, adopted at its 38th session (Doha, 2014),
  3. Welcomes the adoption of a resolution authorizing the removal of the livestock from the property, which should allow to address the significant delay in this issue, and requests the State Party to proceed with the livestock removal as a matter of utmost priority;
  4. Notes with concern that no significant progress has been achieved in the implementation of a number of key Committee requests, in particular those related to regulations to ensure that no coastal development is permitted within the boundaries of the property and the management of fisheries, and considers that a continued absence of effective regulations and management programmes in that regard would constitute a potential danger to the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property, in accordance with Paragraph 180 of the Operational Guidelines;
  5. Reiterates its requests to the State Party to:
    1. Ensure that the Coiba Fund becomes fully operational as a matter of priority and the decision-making power of the Executive Council is strengthened, by including representatives from the tourism sector and the local communities from the coastal areas opposite the property,
    2. Rigorously ensure that no development will be permitted within the boundaries of the property, and that cumulative impacts on the property’s OUV caused by developments on the mainland are effectively addressed,
    3. Complete, implement and enforce the management plan for the Special Zone of Marine Protection (SZMP) as a matter of priority, which should include clear regulations related to fisheries management, including no-take zones and seasonal closures of critical areas, such as Hannibal Bank, Montuosa Island and Uva Island, and to provide an electronic copy and three printed copies of the draft management plan for the SZMP, for review by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN;
  6. Also requests the State Party to invite an IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission to the property to evaluate impacts of unregulated fishing, assess progress with the implementation of the 2014 mission recommendations and provide technical advice regarding the urgent implementation of the outstanding recommendations in the context of the new institutional framework;
  7. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2017, an updated report on the state of conservation of the property and the implementation of the above, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 41st session in 2017.