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Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection

Panama
Factors affecting the property in 2016*
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Human resources
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
  • Legal framework
  • Livestock farming / grazing of domesticated animals
  • Management systems/ management plan
  • Marine transport infrastructure
Factors* affecting the property identified in previous reports
  • Livestock farming (continued and growing presence of cattle)
  • Management systems (delayed implementation of the Management Plan)
  • Marine transport infrastructure (planned construction of a naval base)
  • Legal framework (absence of clear regulations)
  • Fishing/collecting aquatic resources
  • Human resources (insufficient management capacity)
  • Impacts of tourism / visitor / recreation
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2016

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

International Assistance: requests for the property until 2016
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
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:

  • The removal of livestock from the Coiba Island is the priority for the National Directorate of Protected Areas and Wildlife under the newly established Ministry of Environment;
  • The financial mechanisms for the Coiba Fund are being elaborated and its implementation is expected to begin in 2016;
  • Following the evaluation of the management plan for the Coiba National Park, its validity was extended for five years. Its revision will be completed by July 2017;
  • A number of measures are foreseen to strengthen the Executive Council of the National Park;
  • No additional infrastructure has been constructed within the naval base and the total amount of the military personnel present on the island remains low (11 people). The staff of the National Park has conducted meetings with the military personnel and organized presentations about the conservation of the property;
  • A Public Use Plan (PUP) is being developed for the property, which will identify its carrying capacity and establish the limits of acceptable change;
  • The Ministry of the Environment and the Authority of Aquatic Resources of Panama are going through a restructuring phase with regards to their respective roles in the implementation of regulations in the Special Zone for Marine protection of the property (SZMP);
  • The Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama is currently also introducing changes in order to improve fisheries management nationwide. In 2016, it is planned to assess fishing activities in the SZMP and develop proposals for their management through a participatory approach. The State Party confirms that shark finning is prohibited in Panama;
  • An overall good state of conservation of the property is reported, including a healthy state of reef communities.

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 Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2016

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.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2016
40 COM 7B.76
Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection (Panama) (N 1138rev)

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.
Draft Decision: 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.
Report year: 2016
Panama
Date of Inscription: 2005
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2015) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 40COM (2016)
Exports

* : The threats indicated are listed in alphabetical order; their order does not constitute a classification according to the importance of their impact on the property.
Furthermore, they are presented irrespective of the type of threat faced by the property, i.e. with specific and proven imminent danger (“ascertained danger”) or with threats which could have deleterious effects on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (“potential danger”).

** : All mission reports are not always available electronically.


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