Panama City, Sep 6 (EFE).- Panamanian authorities announced Tuesday that they had surprised a Colombian-flagged fishing boat operating in the Cordillera de Coiba marine zone, from which fishing vessels are banned, seizing it and now preparing to levy a fine on it.
The Colombian boat “had no authorization nor any reason to enter (Panamanian) national waters,” said Flor Torrijos, the director of the Aquatic Resources Authority of Panama (ARAP), at a joint press conference with the National Aeronaval Service (Senan).
In an ARAP communique, the agency said that the vessel, named “De Pesca” (Going Fishing) and crewed by eight Colombians, “was doing its fishing work in a prohibited area of the Cordillera de Coiba sector” when it was detected on the weekend.
The Cordillera de Coiba is a protected area covering some 68,000 square kilometers (26,100 square miles) off Panama’s Pacific coast. The management plan for the region establishes that all exploitation of marine species is banned within two-thirds of that expanse of ocean, while in the remaining third fishing may only be performed down to a depth of 70 meters (230 feet).
Torrijos noted that prevailing law in Panama dictates that a foreign-flagged fishing vessel must request authorization to enter Panamanian waters and, upon obtaining it, must allow local authorities to “satellite monitor” it with the authorities with “the objective of guaranteeing sustainable fishing.”
The De Pesca did not follow this procedure. In addition, “dogfish (a type of shark) was identified” among the fishing products found on board, a situation that “is going to aggravate the … fine,” the official said.
Panamanian law establishes “possible fines of between $50,000 and $300,000” for failures to abide by the proper procedures, and authorities will impose the fine within “30 to 80 days,” the ARAP director said.
Senan also “recently” surprised a Panamanian-flagged boat in the Las Perlas Archipelago with four crewmembers on board who were fishing without permission and without allowing authorities to track them via satellite monitoring, and the appropriate procedures have been launched against the vessel and crew.
On board the boat, Panamanian authorities found “prohibited marine product,” said ARAP.