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 to the property: 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

N/A

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Continued and growing presence of cattle.

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

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2012

No state of conservation report was submitted by the State Party as was requested by Decision 35 COM 7B.33. Therefore, the property’s state of conservation is assessed on the basis of other information received by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN. A revised retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value (RSOUV) was received from the State Party 10 May 2011, reviewed by IUCN and forwarded to the State Party for finalization 5 April 2012.

a) Management planning, fisheries management and governance

Available information indicates that a Management Plan for the Special Zone of Marine Protection has been developed, as requested by the World Heritage Committee during its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011), but this has not been confirmed by the State Party. There is also no indication that the State Party has undertaken a Management Effectiveness Evaluation in line with the Enhancing Our Heritage toolkit, or of whether a coastal zone development and conservation policy has been formulated. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN have received information that current facilities, funding and staff are insufficient to control the expected pressures from fishing, coastal development, and uncontrolled tourism. The Oversight Committee is reported to have little experience in managing protected areas and rarely meets. There is a new effort to patrol the outer limits of the Park by Panama’s Drug Enforcement Agency; however those resources are unlikely to be focused on illegal fishing. Dive operators have reported a marked decrease in the number of sharks, billfish, rays, groupers and snappers as commercial fishing has increased in the area. The long line and nylon gill nets widely employed by the fishermen create unintended by-catch of sea turtles. Other fishing includes the extraction of conch and lobsters.

Although many fishermen are supportive of the Park, it is reported they fish illegally because they do not know where the marine boundaries are and do not respect the Park’s boundaries. In addition, the area as delineated at present may not be large enough to sustain the ecosystems to be protected. In Decision 33 COM 7B.38 (Seville, 2009) the Committee requested more intensive management and monitoring of the commercial fishery, in line with the recommendation made by IUCN in its evaluation of the property at the time of its inscription. Most recently, the Panamanian press noted that ANAM, Panama’s Natural Environmental Authority, was not implementing the Management Plan in any significant way, nor had it acted on any of the Committee requests from 2009. Enforcement of fishing regulations has been carried out by Marviva, a nonprofit regional conservation group.

b) Coastal development

In Decision 33 COM 7B.38 (Seville, 2009) the Committee requested the adoption of a policy towards development which was spreading along the mainland shore opposite the island. It was reported to IUCN that some proposed significant infrastructure development ideas in the nearby coastal zone of a large-scale industrial port and a 400-slip marina (the marina’s environmental impact statement was rejected in 2009) have been suggested by national decision takers. Nearby, private landowners are reported to be proposing the entry of a luxury tourism developer; however no carrying capacity in the Park exists at this time.

c) Continued presence of cattle

In 2009, the Committee at its 33rd session requested the State Party to consider the removal of cattle from the property as a priority. The international assistance request for the removal of cattle, submitted on 7 April 2010, was evaluated and a recommendation made to re-submit the request as a ‘conservation and management’ request instead of an ‘emergency’ request, and also to reconsider the procedure to be used for cattle removal. This information was communicated to the State Party in 2010. However to date, no revised request has been submitted, as requested by Decision 35 COM 7B.33.

d) Naval station on Coiba Island

In the absence of adequate recent information on the construction of a naval base on the island, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN remain concerned over the potential impacts of this development on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value. Despite two letters from the World Heritage Centre to the State Party, dated 9 April 2010 and 22 March 2011 and requesting more information on the development in line with Paragraph 172 of the Operational Guidelines, to date the State Party has not provided such information.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre and IUCN

Considering the absence of clear information from the State Party on the state of conservation of the property, including the completion of the Management Plan for the Special Zone of Marine Protection, the implementation of the Management Plan, and on previously noted issues such as the impacts of commercial, artisanal and sports fishing in the area, the cumulative impacts of coastal development on the property, as well as the lack of information regarding the proposed construction of a naval station on Coiba Island, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN wish to draw the attention of the Committee on their concern about the state of conservation of the property. They note that the resolution of many of these issues has been pending since the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in 2005.

They suggest that the World Heritage Committee reiterate its request that the State Party urgently submit all the necessary information on the state of conservation of the property no later than 1 February 2013. In the event that the State Party does not submit detailed information on the state of conservation of the property by this date, the World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the Committee consider requesting the State Party to invite a reactive monitoring mission to the property in 2013-2014.

Decision Adopted: 36 COM 7B.33

The World Heritage Committee,

1.  Having examined Document WHC-12/36.COM/7B.Add,

2.  Recalling Decision 35 COM 7B.33, adopted at its 35th session (UNESCO, 2011),

3.  Regrets that the State Party did not submit a report on the state of conservation of the property, as requested by the World Heritage Committee in Decision 35 COM 7B.33;

4.  Takes note that it is unclear whether the Management Plan for the Special Zone of Marine Protection has been finalized and adopted as previously urged by the World Heritage Committee in Decision 35 COM 7B.33, and considers that the property’s lack of management capacity, if not addressed, is likely to negatively affect its Outstanding Universal Value;

5.  Requests the State Party to urgently confirm the status of the Management Plan for the Special Zone of Marine Protection, and to report on its progress in undertaking an independent Management Effectiveness Evaluation in order to inform the effective implementation of the Management Plan and fishing regulations for both Coiba National Park and its Special Protection Zone;

6.  Reiterates its request to the State Party to develop and implement a coastal zone development and conservation policy in order to ensure that cumulative coastal zone development impacts on the property's Outstanding Universal Value are effectively addressed, and encourages the State Party to develop this policy on the basis of a Strategic Environmental Assessment of the coastal zone’s development potential;

7.  Notes that the State Party did not submit a revised International Assistance Request for the removal of cattle from Coiba Island, and urges the State Party to re-submit a revised request in line with the recommendations made by the World Heritage Centre and IUCN at the time of submission;

8.  Welcomes the State Party’s submission of a revised retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, and also urges the State Party to submit a final version within the framework of the Periodic Reporting Exercise in Latin America and the Caribbean;

9. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2013, a report on the state of conservation of the property, and on the progress madeon the issues mentioned above, including increased fishing pressures, for examination by the World Heritage Committee at its 37th session in 2013.