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Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection

Panama
Factors affecting the property in 2018*
  • 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/grazing of domesticated animals)
  • 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 / visitors / recreation
UNESCO Extra-Budgetary Funds until 2018

Total amount granted: USD 350,000 (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 2018
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2018**

January 2014: Joint World Heritage Centre/IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission; December 2016: IUCN Reactive Monitoring mission

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 2018

On 29 January 2018, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, and additional information on 31 January 2018. Both documents are available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1138/documents/ and provide the following information:

  • Removal of feral livestock from Coiba Island has continued. Horses and cows are stated to no longer be present and the remaining numbers of buffalos are estimated at 30-40 animals. The livestock removal programme is expected to be completed by April 2018;
  • The Board of Directors of Coiba National Park approved the operationalization of the Coiba Fund through the Waters, Protected Areas and Wildlife Trust in September 2017;
  • A Public Use Plan (PUP) was elaborated for the property in accordance with the provisions of the Management Plan and was approved by the Board of Directors of Coiba National Park in January 2018;
  • In consultation with the fisheries sector, new fisheries regulations were prepared for the Special Zone of Marine Protection (SZMP), based on the Sustainable Fishing Use Plan of Coiba National Park and taking into account the recommendations of recent Reactive Monitoring missions. The regulations were approved by the Commission for the Sustainable Management of Fisheries in the SZMP on 26 January 2018 and are expected to be approved by the Board of Directors of Coiba National Park in May 2018. The main changes introduced to the regulations compared to the earlier version relate, among others, to industrial fishing and the proposed zonation, including elimination of the previously proposed seasonal fishing zone where longline tuna fishing would be allowed during certain periods, and to establishing restrictions on the maximum size of fishing boats. The regulations will be re-evaluated within 3 years to assess progress achieved.

On 16 February 2018, the World Heritage Centre sent a letter to the State Party requesting clarifications with regards to third party information raising concerns about plans to construct airport infrastructure on Coiba Island. The State Party responded to this letter on 14 and 27 March 2018 clarifying that a public tender process was open for the study, design, rehabilitation and maintenance of the Central Camp Landing Strip on Coiba Island, which is foreseen in the Management Plan of Coiba National Park. Currently the conditions of the landing strip do not meet the minimum civil aviation safety requirements.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2018

The confirmation that the removal of feral livestock from Coiba Island has continued and is expected to be successfully completed in 2018 should be welcomed. However, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to establish a follow-up monitoring programme to ensure that the successful removal of livestock can be confirmed over the longer-term.

A review of the PUP reveals that it follows the zonation adopted in the Management Plan for Coiba National Park and does not propose any changes in this regard; however, it proposes some significant expansions of existing infrastructure within the property, including different types of accommodation facilities, which might go beyond the scope of improving existing facilities used by park staff and visitors. It is also unclear if an assessment has been undertaken of potential negative impacts of such infrastructure expansion and the associated increase in visitor numbers, and how the carrying capacity proposed for certain places and activities has been estimated, as the PUP notes that no plans or programmes for monitoring of tourism impacts currently exist for the property. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to suspend the implementation of the PUP until an assessment of the potential negative impacts of its provisions on the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) has been undertaken and to submit such an assessment, prior to its final adoption, to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN. The proposed restoration of the Central Camp Landing Strip will also require a specific assessment of any potential impacts on the OUV of the property, as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which will need to be prepared for the project and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN prior to initiating works. Furthermore, it should be considered that such restoration should be aimed strictly at improving the facilities to meet safety requirements and not to facilitate increased passenger air traffic to Coiba Island.

While the previously proposed seasonal industrial tuna fishing zone has been excluded from the current version of the fisheries regulations for the SZMP, the previously foreseen establishment of a marine reserve around Isla Montuosa is replaced with a zone of restricted access around this island. Overall, the regulations still provide for commercial fishing of a wide range of species and it remains unclear how they would guarantee the preservation of the property’s OUV. Furthermore, a study on the health of coral reefs in the property annexed to the State Party’s report notes a degradation in the state of corals, potentially attributing it, in addition to global threats, to local and regional changes in ecosystems, particularly to a decline of herbivorous fish species, some of which are of commercial interest in the region. It should also be recalled that the 2016 Reactive Monitoring mission concluded that if issues related to fisheries management within the property cannot be resolved by the end of 2018 in a manner that will ensure the long-term preservation of the OUV in the marine portion of the property, then the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger should be considered by the World Heritage Committee at its 43rd session in 2019. Specific requests for seasonal closures recommended by the 2014 Reactive Monitoring mission have also not been implemented. In this regard, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to further revise the regulations for the SZMP in line with previous requests of the Committee to establish no-take zones and seasonal closures of critical areas, in order to ensure that they are aligned with the existing regulations in place for Coiba National Park and guarantee the preservation of the property’s OUV, and to ensure the provisions of adequate resources for the efficient enforcement of fisheries regulations throughout the property. Furthermore, it is recommended that the Committee urge the State Party to establish a monitoring system to assess progress with the establishment and enforcement of regulations within the marine component of the property, as recommended by the 2014 and 2016 missions.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2018
42 COM 7B.87
Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection (Panama) (N 1138rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.17, adopted at its 41st session (Kraków, 2017),
  3. Welcomes the continued progress made by the State Party in removing feral livestok from Coiba Island, and requests the State Party to establish a follow-up monitoring programme to confirm the successful removal of feral livestock from the island in the long term;
  4. Notes with serious concern that the Public Use Plan (PUP) foresees expansion of existing infrastructure and that potential negative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property have not been properly considered when developing the plan, and therefore urges the State Party to:
    1. suspend the implementation of the PUP until an assessment of the potential negative impacts of its provisions on the OUV of the property, based on rigorous scientific data, is completed and submitted by 1 December 2019 to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN,
    2. ensure that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the airport infrastructure project is elaborated, in line with the IUCN World Heritage advice note on Environmental Assessments, and submitted by 1 December 2019 to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN prior to beginning works on the project,
    3. establish a comprehensive programme to monitor tourism impacts on the property in order to inform the elaboration of any future tourism-related plans and programmes;
  5. Also takes note of the revised fisheries regulations for the Special Zone of Marine Protection (SZMP) of the property, but also notes with serious concern that it remains unclear how these regulations would guarantee the long-term preservation of the OUV of the property, and also urges the State Party to:
    1. further revise the regulations for the SZMP in line with previous Committee requests to establish unequivocal no-take zones and seasonal closures of critical areas, in order to ensure that they are aligned with the existing regulations in place for Coiba National Park and guarantee the preservation of the property’s OUV,
    2. ensure the provision of adequate resources for the efficient enforcement of fisheries regulations throughout the property,
    3. establish a monitoring system to assess progress with the establishment and enforcement of regulations within the marine component of the property, as recommended by the 2014 and 2016 Reactive Monitoring missions;
  6. Recalls the conclusion of the 2016 mission that if issues related to fisheries management within the property cannot be resolved by the end of 2018 in a manner that will ensure the long-term preservation of the OUV in the marine portion of the property, consideration should be given to the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger during its 43rd session in 2019;
  7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, 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 43rd session in 2019, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress in protecting the property from unsustainable fisheries, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Draft Decision: 42 COM 7B.87

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/18/42.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 41 COM 7B.17, adopted at its 41st session (Kraków, 2017),
  3. Welcomes the continued progress made by the State Party in removing feral livestok from Coiba Island, and requests the State Party to establish a follow-up monitoring programme to confirm the successful removal of feral livestock from the island in the long term;
  4. Notes with serious concern that the Public Use Plan (PUP) foresees expansion of existing infrastructure and that potential negative impacts on the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the property have not been properly considered when developing the plan, and therefore urges the State Party to:
    1. suspend the implementation of the PUP until an assessment of the potential negative impacts of its provisions on the OUV of the property, based on rigorous scientific data, is completed and submitted by 1 December 2019 to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN,
    2. ensure that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the airport infrastructure project is elaborated, in line with the IUCN World Heritage advice note on Environmental Assessments, and submitted by 1 December 2019 to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN prior to beginning works on the project,
    3. establish a comprehensive programme to monitor tourism impacts on the property in order to inform the elaboration of any future tourism-related plans and programmes;
  5. Also takes note of the revised fisheries regulations for the Special Zone of Marine Protection (SZMP) of the property, but also notes with serious concern that it remains unclear how these regulations would guarantee the long-term preservation of the OUV of the property, and also urges the State Party to:
    1. further revise the regulations for the SZMP in line with previous Committee requests to establish unequivocal no-take zones and seasonal closures of critical areas, in order to ensure that they are aligned with the existing regulations in place for Coiba National Park and guarantee the preservation of the property’s OUV,
    2. ensure the provision of adequate resources for the efficient enforcement of fisheries regulations throughout the property,
    3. establish a monitoring system to assess progress with the establishment and enforcement of regulations within the marine component of the property, as recommended by the 2014 and 2016 Reactive Monitoring missions;
  6. Recalls the conclusion of the 2016 mission that if issues related to fisheries management within the property cannot be resolved by the end of 2018 in a manner that will ensure the long-term preservation of the OUV in the marine portion of the property, consideration should be given to the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger during its 43rd session in 2019;
  7. Also requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2019, 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 43rd session in 2019, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress in protecting the property from unsustainable fisheries, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2018
Panama
Date of Inscription: 2005
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2018) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 42COM (2018)
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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