The effects of climate change and overfishing have led to a drop of 40% in the Panama fishing industry this year says the Aquatic Resources Authority
The sovereignty of the Republic of Panama consists of 70% sea and 30% of land, and in the Pacific only there are more than 25,000 artisanal fishermen surveyed who follow the activity without regulation, warns, the Authority administrator Flor Torrijos
To try to reverse the breakdown in fishing activity, the industry is betting on aquaculture. In the next eight years, more than$ $55 million will be invested in the cultivation of cobia, bojalá, tilapia, seaweed, proliferous shells, yellowfin tuna, , in marine farms.
Panama has the perfect water to develop mariculture and the objective in this five-year period is to promote this activity with the use of sophisticated technology, which allows for increased resources and exports, said Torrijos.
When I first moved to Panama a decade ago I asked the roadside fish monger why he was selling pargo and robalo that were so small. They should be left to grow and multiply. Answer was that "we have to eat today." He was angry that I would not buy the small fish. The concept that bigger fish left to be means more fish , and larger fish means more money is not grasped. On the other hand there was a fonda that specialized in lobster dinner at a very fair price. One had to visit or call in advance that day and order. The husband would then go diving to fill that day's order. Some days, Maria would say , "no langostas today, they need to rest and grow". As the gringo population grew and demand increased, Maria stopped selling lobster.
When I walk the beaches here at low tide it's common to find nets strung across the mouths of rivers and estuaries. The gill nets are full of juvenile fish such as robalo and others. there are also adult fish in these nets. If the ignorant people are going to catch the juvenile fish from the estuaries and the adult fish trying to spawn then of course the fishery is going to collapse. I also find where sea turtle nests have been dug up and the eggs hauled away to be sold as an aphrodisiac to the local men. Gringos here are resented for speaking out about these practices because this is "their country" and we should mind our own business. I used to carry a bag and pick up glass bottles from the beaches but I gave up because the next day there would just be new ones thrown down. So much talk about being green and protecting the environment here and everyone has someone to blame for it ie,,, the "people from the city", the "cholos" from the country, the people who live on the rivers, the indigenous are always favorite scapegoats here. The truth is that they all do it!! Depopulation or repopulation by a better educated people might be the only thing that can save the deteriorating fragile environment in Panama. That will never happen so expect ever smaller fish in fewer numbers to be caught and the continued rape and poisoning of the land.