In a huge victory for the thousands of billfish in Panamanian waters, the Republic of Panama has banned longliner activity. Panama’s Executive Decree 486, signed by President Ricardo Martinelli on Dec. 28, 2010, prohibits longline vessels of over six tons from operating within the nation’s waters, which means the massive bycatch and kill of so many billfish will now cease thanks to this historic decree. It also makes Panama the first Central American nation to ban longliners.
Dr. Ruben Berrocal, National Secretary of SENACYT (Secretaría Nacional de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación) added, “The President’s decision underscores his commitment to preserving our natural resources for future generations; and the economic and scientific benefits these measures produce are well-established. Through sustainable marine management efforts and the careful consideration of important advocacy programs to maintain our game fish–such as those supported by The Billfish Foundation–we are committed to ensure that Panama remains a world-renowned destination where commerce, science and economic productivity can live in harmony.”
Huge credit goes to the Billfish Foundation, for its ongoing lobbying and efforts to impel the Panamanian government to action. “This action,” said Ms. Ellen Peel, President of the Billfish Foundation, “is the latest in a growing trend that makes Panama one of the most proactive, innovative and committed fishery managers in the world and results from the increasing influence of the collective sportfishing community. After prohibiting tuna purse seining in July the signing of these two agreements acts directly on two of the greatest sources of overfishing of marlin and tuna species while creating appropriate sustainable management plans for billfish and other popular game fish vital to growing sportfishing and tourism in the Central America region.”