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Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection

Panama
Factors affecting the property in 2021*
  • 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/ management plan (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 2021

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 2021
Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved : 0 USD
Missions to the property until 2021**

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 2021

On 29 January 2020, 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:

  • Monitoring activities following the feral livestock removal programme were undertaken in 2019 and the presence of only one buffalo was detected. Further monitoring activities were planned for 2020;
  • As part of the update of the Management Plan for Coiba National Park, a bidding process for the preparation of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the entire property and its wider area of socioeconomic influence has also been initiated. Terms of Reference (ToRs) for the SEA and the update of the Management Plan were annexed;
  • Plans for the rehabilitation of the airport runway within the property have been suspended and therefore will not be considered by the SEA;
  • Some provisions of the fishing regulations for the Special Zone of Marine Protection (SZMP), adopted in 2018, are further clarified, for example, while longline fishing is allowed, it is restricted to 500 hooks per horizontal line compared to 1.000 hooks allowed in other national waters. It is also noted that a decree adopted in 2017 regulates the process for registration, licensing and surveillance of fishing boats using longlines. This process started for the SZMP in 2019 and a total of 178 applications have been received, out of which 68 permits were granted and others are being evaluated. The application for new permits has been closed as of June 2019. All vessels with permits will need to have a vessel monitoring system tracking device installed by March 2020, which would allow the monitoring of fishing activities in the SZMP;
  • Surveillance activities are being carried out by rangers of Coiba National Park and it is also planned to acquire drones for these purposes;
  • A Biosafety Plan has been prepared for Coiba National Park in coordination with institutions, municipalities, private companies, community-based organizations, researchers and local community;
  • Other projects continued being implemented, including monitoring of coral reef communities, hawksbill turtles and a baseline assessment of occurrence and distribution of cetaceans.

In 2019, IUCN also held consultations with the State Party and received a letter inviting an Advisory mission to provide advice on the fishing regulations for the SZMP. It has not been possible to organize the mission to date due to the current global pandemic situation.

Analysis and Conclusion by World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies in 2021

Progress has been achieved by the State Party on a number of issues that should be welcomed. This includes the finalization of the ToRs, and initiation of a bidding process, for the preparation of the SEA for the property and update of the Management Plan, ongoing control and monitoring activities following the feral livestock removal and preparation of a biosafety plan for Coiba National Park. With regards to the SEA, it should, however, be recalled that the World Heritage Committee in its Decision 43 COM 7B.28 requested 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”. It is noted that, although the ToRs for the preparation the SEA state that the Public Use Plan (PUP) may need to be modified based on the SEA process, the State Party however provides no information on the current status of the PUP or of any infrastructure projects, except the suspension of the airport landing strip upgrade. Therefore, it is recommended that the Committee request the State Party to provide further clarifications in this regard and to ensure that the results of the SEA, once available, are fully taken into account in the implementation of the PUP or in its revision, if deemed necessary.

With regards to fishing regulations in the SZMP, the additional information provided by the State Party is noted. While the adopted regulations indeed represent an important step after a long absence of any regulations in the SZMP, the concern remains that they are significantly weaker than those in place within Coiba National Park. These weaker regulations not only fail to guarantee the protection of the Outstanding Universal Value (OUV) of the entire property, but they also create two very different protection and management regimes when a harmonized approach is clearly needed. It is therefore recommended that the Committee request the State Party to address the specific requests made by the Committee in its Decision 43 COM 7B.28 regarding fishing regulations, in particular the seasonal closures of critical replenishing zones across the property. On the one hand, the expansion of the vessel monitoring system to SZMP is a positive step to ensure surveillance of fishing activities. However, it remains of concern that available human resources are insufficient to be able to control illegal activities across the entire property and the State Party should therefore be encouraged to continue strengthening capacity and resources. The invitation from the State Party for an IUCN Advisory mission to the property to help further refine the fishing regulations and a strategy for their implementation is welcomed. While it is regrettable that the mission could not yet be organized, it is recommended that the State Party continue consultations with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN on this matter, and the mission be undertaken once conditions allow.

Decisions adopted by the Committee in 2021
44 COM 7B.115
Coiba National Park and its Special Zone of Marine Protection (Panama) (N 1138rev)

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.28, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Welcomes the finalization of Terms of Refence and initiation of a bidding process for the preparation of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the property and its zone of socio-economic influence;
  4. Also welcomes the suspension of the plans to rehabilitate the airport landing strip within the property and the confirmation that this project will therefore not be considered by the SEA, however, requests the State Party to clarify whether this project has been completely abandoned or only suspended;
  5. Also recalling its request to 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 (PUP), until the SEA has been completed and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, also requests the State Party to clarify the status of other projects foreseen in the PUP and to ensure that the results of the SEA, once available, are fully taken into account in the future management of the property;
  6. Takes note of the ongoing monitoring and control activities following the removal of feral livestock from the property and encourages the State Party to continue these until the complete absence of feral livestock can be confirmed;
  7. Notes the additional information provided by the State Party regarding the fishing regulations adopted in 2018 for the Special Zone of Marine Protection (SZMP) of the property, however, reiterates its requests to the State Party to further improve the fishing regulations for the SZMP, in line with the recommendations of the 2014 and 2016 missions, by:
    1. Establishing additional no-take zones, including the Hannibal Bank Habitat Protection Zone, considering their critical importance as replenishing areas,
    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;
  8. Notes with satisfaction the expansion of the vessel monitoring system to the SZMP, but also reiterates its request to 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 within Coiba National Park;
  9. Further welcomes the initiative by the State Party to invite an IUCN Advisory mission to the property to help further refine the fishing regulations and provide advice on their implementation and also encourages the State Party to continue consultations with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN on this matter and facilitate the mission to be undertaken once conditions allow;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session.
Draft Decision: 44 COM 7B.115

The World Heritage Committee,

  1. Having examined Document WHC/21/44.COM/7B,
  2. Recalling Decision 43 COM 7B.28, adopted at its 43rd session (Baku, 2019),
  3. Welcomes the finalization of Terms of Refence and initiation of a bidding process for the preparation of a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) for the property and its zone of socio-economic influence;
  4. Also welcomes the suspension of the plans to rehabilitate the airport landing strip within the property and the confirmation that this project will therefore not be considered by the SEA, however, requests the State Party to clarify whether this project has been completely abandoned or only suspended;
  5. Also recalling its request to 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 (PUP), until the SEA has been completed and submitted to the World Heritage Centre for review by IUCN, also requests the State Party to clarify the status of other projects foreseen in the PUP and to ensure that the results of the SEA, once available, are fully taken into account in the future management of the property;
  6. Takes note of the ongoing monitoring and control activities following the removal of feral livestock from the property and encourages the State Party to continue these until the complete absence of feral livestock can be confirmed;
  7. Notes the additional information provided by the State Party regarding the fishing regulations adopted in 2018 for the Special Zone of Marine Protection (SZMP) of the property, however, reiterates its requests to the State Party to further improve the fishing regulations for the SZMP, in line with the recommendations of the 2014 and 2016 missions, by:
    1. Establishing additional no-take zones, including the Hannibal Bank Habitat Protection Zone, considering their critical importance as replenishing areas,
    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;
  8. Notes with satisfaction the expansion of the vessel monitoring system to the SZMP, but also reiterates its request to 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 within Coiba National Park;
  9. Further welcomes the initiative by the State Party to invite an IUCN Advisory mission to the property to help further refine the fishing regulations and provide advice on their implementation and also encourages the State Party to continue consultations with the World Heritage Centre and IUCN on this matter and facilitate the mission to be undertaken once conditions allow;
  10. Further requests the State Party to submit to the World Heritage Centre, by 1 December 2022, 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 46th session in 2023.
Report year: 2021
Panama
Date of Inscription: 2005
Category: Natural
Criteria: (ix)(x)
Documents examined by the Committee
SOC Report by the State Party
Report (2020) .pdf
Initialy proposed for examination in 2020
arrow_circle_right 44COM (2021)
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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