A crisis has broken out in the fishing sector say businessmen, due to a decree that bans long line fishing that was led by the Minister of the Presidency, Demetrio Jimmy Papadimitriu.
It all began on December 29, 2010, when President Ricardo Martinelli, backed Papadimitriu and gave orders to prohibit logline fishing vessels over six tons in weight (Decree 486). Since then there has been a constant number of companies closing down.
Impacted and closing
The collapse of exports is estimated at around 60%, including the export of tuna. Beyond this, as recorded by the Water Resources Authority (ARAP) the prohibition of long line vessels has cost 116 industrial jobs and about 1,000 people who were working on ships, not counting all those working in the preparation and logistics chain.
“It’s sad because we lost potential,” said Gustavo Justines, owner of Pesca Fina. It has been recognized at the international level.”
One of the most affected is the processing plant Marpesca, administered by the Lymberopulos family that ceased to operate the 15 longline vessels and closed most of its capture operations.
The business people claim that it is a rule intended to affect Marpesca, but has ended up affecting the entire industry. As such, these are struggles in the Greek community for spaces, indicating that Jimmy Papadimitriu, once in government, decided to damage Marpesca. “The spat comes from the jurisdiction of the fisheries control because almost all the port of Vacamonte is controlled by the Papadimitri family and the Marpesca Group had achieved more success in fishing for Dorado and tuna, so their ships were banned,” said one of the businessmen. The minister of the presidency denied any link with these allegations.
Solomon Shamah, the minister of the Tourism Authority of Panama (ATP), said that marine resources were disappearing due to longline fishing and that is why the President approved Executive Decree 486.
However, no official figures show that marine resources were scarce; Shamah says that after prohibiting logline fishing, more fish were seen. According to this government, “fishing is probably the most sustainable product that we have to offer after our ethnicity and culture.” “I love fishing, because it gives a lot of money to people who offer their services,” Saud Shamah.
Reaction of scientists
The local and international scientific community question the ban on longlining fishing in the absence of strong arguments. They indicate that there needs to be development of a record to justify the excess catch in Panama, which is one of the steps that the Government missed. Of all methods of fishing, longlining is one of the most selective and with lower levels of harmful effects on the ecosystem, says the Institute of Marine Research, of Bergen Norway.
In respect to sport fishing, scientists say that this practice in Panama is affecting marine biology because of the lack of regulation on this activity in the country.
Barco de pesca de palangre, consiste en un aparejo formado por un elemento flotante del cual se sostienen un hilo de plástico en cuyos extremos penden los anzuelos.
A longline fishing boat, which consists of a rig with floats which is holds a plastic thread at the ends with hanging hooks.