Take advantage of the search to browse through the World Heritage Centre information.

Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection

Panama
Factors affecting the property in 2019*
  • 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 2019

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 2019
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2019**

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 2019

On 28 January 2019, the State Party submitted a report on the state of conservation of the property, available at http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/1138/documents/, providing the following information:

  • Measures aimed at removing feral livestock from Coiba Island were continued in 2018. Absence of cows and horses could be confirmed and the remaining population of buffaloes is reported to be very low. It is expected that it will be possible to declare the property free of livestock by 2019;
  • A Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) will be developed for the property. The terms of reference have been approved and note that it will need to consider potential coastal development in the area opposite the property, fishing and visitation. It is expected that the SEA will outline preferred options for sustainable economic development in the property and ensure the preservation of its Outstanding Universal Value (OUV). Decisions to implement any infrastructure proposals included in the property’s Public Use Plan (PUP) are expected to depend on the outcome of the SEA;
  • Terms of reference were issued for development of “Guidelines for the Management of Visitor Flow for the Coiba National Park”, which is expected to serve as a baseline for a participative tourism monitoring programme in the framework of strengthening low-impact and ecotourism initiatives. A Visitation Monitoring Programme is also included in the framework of the PUP. The development of a biosafety plan is envisaged to prevent introduction of invasive species by visitors;
  • For 2019-2020, rehabilitation projects are expected to be undertaken to improve access roads to natural attractions, the visitor center and the signalling and interpretation in all trails as part of the Inter-American Development Bank loan;
  • Regulations for fishing activities in the Special Zone of Marine Protection of the property (SZMP) were approved in January 2018. The SZMP was subdivided into three sub-zones: Hannibal Bank Habitat Protection Zone, Montuosa Island Marine Reserve and the Resource Management Zone, the latter covering the majority of the SZMP. Fishing is completely prohibited only within the Montuosa Island Marine Reserve. Commercial fishing is allowed in the two other sub-zones;
  • Further specific regulations outlined include seasonal bans on fishing of certain species (snapper and dorado), and restrictions on fishing gear and size of boats. A comparison of existing fishing regulations between the Coiba National Park and the SZMP is provided;
  • Existing fishing monitoring and enforcement programmes in the Coiba National Park are reported on, as well as the intention to expand such programmes to the SZMP with the support from the Coiba Fund and a loan from the Inter-American Development Bank.

Prior to the state of conservation report, on 28 August 2018 the State Party submitted to the World Heritage Centre a Heritage Impact Assessment (HIA) for the rehabilitation of the Central Camp Landing Strip on Coiba Island. In response to comments provided by IUCN on the HIA, the State Party provided further clarifications on 25 October 2018, confirming that in June 2018 a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was developed for the project, which aims to ensure the necessary safety requirements for the landing strip used mainly by staff involved in monitoring and patrolling the property, and does not foresee any modifications to the frequency of flights to the island.

On 3 May 2019, the State Party submitted complementary information on the state of conservation report, and included several technical reports on conservation of specific corals, marine turtles and fish species, among other annexes. 

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2019

The confirmation that removal of feral livestock from Coiba Island has continued and nearly been completed is welcomed. The intention of the State Party to undertake an SEA for the property is also welcomed, and it is recommended that the World Heritage Committee request the State Party to develop it as a matter of priority, ensuring that it fully considers any potential direct, indirect and cumulative impacts of possible infrastructure or other development initiatives on the OUV of the property, and not to approve any such projects within the property, including those contained in the PUP, until the SEA has been completed and submitted to the World Heritage Centre, for review by IUCN.

Further clarifications provided by the State Party regarding the rehabilitation of the Central Camp Landing Strip, and the confirmation that the project would only involve upgrading of the facilities to meet safety requirements and would not result in any modifications to flight frequency, are noted. However, it is recommended that this project also be considered by the above-mentioned SEA, as per the above procedure. 

Concerning the regulations of fishing within the property, the 2014 and 2016 Reactive Monitoring missions both concluded that development and implementation of adequate fishing regulations for the SZMP was crucial for the long-term conservation of the OUV of the property. While some recommendations of the missions were reflected in the regulations adopted in January 2018, such as designation of the Montuosa Island Marine Reserve as a no-take zone and establishment of seasonal closures for dorado and snapper, the regulations appear to be significantly weaker than those in place in Coiba National Park, particularly since they allow commercial fishing in almost 98% of the SZMP, including in the Hannibal Bank Habitat Protection Zone considered as one of the priority conservation areas by the 2014 mission. Therefore, in order to prevent the decline of populations of critical species that sustain the OUV of the property, it will be essential to further revise the regulations for the SZMP in line with the recommendations of the 2016 and 2014 missions. Such revisions should include re-consideration of the approach to commercial fishing within the SZMP, in line with the regulations in place for the Coiba National Park, and declaration of additional no-take zones, including the Hannibal Bank, to achieve at least a similar percentage of area covered by no-take zones as within the Coiba National Park.

It is also recommended that the Committee reiterate its request to the State Party to ensure that necessary resources are available for the enforcement of fishing regulations throughout the property. It is noted that a monitoring system is envisaged for the SZMP that would allow monitoring of fishing activities and the population dynamics of key species, as confirmed by the State Party in the additional information provided. It will be important that such a system is put in place as a matter of priority, and that it is aligned with the existing monitoring activities within the Coiba National Park, particularly in terms of key indicator species, so as to cover the entire property. In the absence of a substantial regulatory and management response by the State Party to address these pending issues, it is recommended that the Committee consider the inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger at its 44th session. 

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2019
43 COM 7B.28
Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection (Panama) (N 1138rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.87, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the confirmation that eradication of feral livestock from Coiba Island has significantly advanced and is expected to be completed in 2019;
  4. Also welcomes the decision of the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the property, requests the State Party to suspend the implementation of any new tourism infrastructure or other development projects within the property, including those envisaged in the Public Use Plan, until the SEA has been completed and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  5. Takes note of the confirmation provided by the State Party that the rehabilitation of the Central Camp Landing Strip would only involve upgrading of the facilities to meet the safety requirements and would not result in any modifications to flight frequency, also requests the State Party to ensure that this project is also considered by the SEA in light of the above indications;
  6. Notes with utmost concern that while some recommendations of the 2014 and 2016 missions were reflected in the fishing regulations for the Special Zone of Marine Protection (SZMP) approved in January 2018, overall the regulations appear to be insufficient to prevent the decline of critical species that sustain the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) from unsustainable commercial fishing and therefore, urges the State Party to further improve the fishing regulations for the SZMP, in line with the recommendations of the missions, by:
    1. Establishing additional no-take zones, including the Hannibal Bank Habitat Protection Zone, considering the significantly larger percentage of area covered by no-take zones within the Coiba National Park,
    2. Reconsidering the current approach to commercial fishing within the SZMP in line with regulations in place for Coiba National Park, in order to further reduce pressures from fishing on the property;
  7. Also urges the State Party to ensure the provision of adequate resources for the efficient enforcement of fishing regulations throughout the property, and the full functioning of the monitoring system envisaged for the SZMP and to align this system with the existing monitoring activities with Coiba National Park, particularly in terms of key indicator species;
  8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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 44th session in 2020, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress in protecting the property from unsustainable fishing, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Draft Decision: 43 COM 7B.28

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/19/43.COM/7B.Add,
  2. Recalling Decision 42 COM 7B.87, adopted at its 42nd session (Manama, 2018),
  3. Welcomes the confirmation that eradication of feral livestock from Coiba Island has significantly advanced and is expected to be completed in 2019;
  4. Also welcomes the decision of the State Party to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the property, requests the State Party to suspend the implementation of any new tourism infrastructure or other development projects within the property, including those envisaged in the Public Use Plan, until the SEA has been completed and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN;
  5. Takes note of the confirmation provided by the State Party that the rehabilitation of the Central Camp Landing Strip would only involve upgrading of the facilities to meet the safety requirements and would not result in any modifications to flight frequency, also requests the State Party to ensure that this project is also considered by the SEA in light of the above indications;
  6. Notes with utmost concern that while some recommendations of the 2014 and 2016 missions were reflected in the fishing regulations for the Special Zone of Marine Protection (SZMP) approved in January 2018, overall the regulations appear to be insufficient to prevent the decline of critical species that sustain the property’s Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) from unsustainable commercial fishing and therefore, urges the State Party to further improve the fishing regulations for the SZMP, in line with the recommendations of the missions, by:
    1. Establishing additional no-take zones, including the Hannibal Bank Habitat Protection Zone, considering the significantly larger percentage of area covered by no-take zones within the Coiba National Park,
    2. Reconsidering the current approach to commercial fishing within the SZMP in line with regulations in place for Coiba National Park, in order to further reduce pressures from fishing on the property;
  7. Also urges the State Party to ensure the provision of adequate resources for the efficient enforcement of fishing regulations throughout the property, and the full functioning of the monitoring system envisaged for the SZMP and to align this system with the existing monitoring activities with Coiba National Park, particularly in terms of key indicator species;
  8. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 February 2020, 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 44th session in 2020, with a view to considering, in the absence of substantial progress in protecting the property from unsustainable fishing, the possible inscription of the property on the List of World Heritage in Danger.
Report year: 2019
Panama
Date of Inscription: 2005
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2019) .pdf
arrow_circle_right 43COM (2019)
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.


top