TAKING STOCK assessment identifies gaps in fisheries transparency for Panama, shows need to implement the FiTI

TAKING STOCK assessment identifies gaps in fisheries transparency for Panama, shows need to implement the FiTI

02 March 2023. In its latest TAKING STOCK assessment of government transparency in marine fisheries, the Fisheries Transparency Initiative (FiTI) evaluated the information that Panamanian national authorities make available to the public via government websites. The results clearly demonstrate the country’s modest performance; while certain information is published, the majority of what is required for transparent and inclusive fisheries management remains inaccessible. Panama’s fisheries sector would therefore benefit significantly from implementing the FiTI.

Based on the requirements of the FiTI Standard, these TAKING STOCK assessments review transparency across 12 thematic areas of marine fisheries management, evaluating whether government information is publicly accessible, up to date and easy to find.

Information on fisheries in Panama is mostly published on the website of the Authority of Aquatic Resources of Panama (ARAP). Some of the information across the 12 thematic areas can be found there.

It is worth highlighting positive efforts made by the fishing authority such as publishing different vessel registries according to the type of vessel, including corresponding fishing authorisations, owner and license duration, etc.

However, some important information is not disclosed by the national authorities in Panama, such as:

  • During the years 2022 and 2023, subsidies have been granted to artisanal fishers. However, our assessment found no information or consolidated report. It is therefore assumed that subsidies information has so far not been compiled by the national authorities of Panama.
  • It has not been possible to find recent figures on the number of artisanal fishers in Panama, despite the fact that in the 2019 a census was announced. According to the information available, a new census is being planned for the year 2024.
  • Information on catches has been found in documents older than 10 years, and some official documents also refer to catch data. However, it has not been possible to find recent public statistics on the catches made in Panamanian waters, both for large-scale, small-scale and artisanal vessels.

Lack of information on small-scale fisheries and marine catch data is a significant challenge for fisheries management, and addressing this problem is essential for achieving sustainable fisheries and ensuring the livelihoods of millions of people who depend on small-scale fishing for their food and income. For example, the lack of information on small-scale fisheries can lead to a situation where these fisheries are overlooked or undervalued in national and international fisheries policy decisions. Likewise, without accurate and up-to-date information on catch data, it is difficult to set appropriate catch limits, regulate fishing gear and practices, and ensure that these fisheries are sustainable for future generations.

The assessment concludes with five concrete recommendations to Panamanian national authorities, encouraging the government to, inter alia, make currently available, but unpublished information publicly accessible and consider access to information as a key principle in the current regulatory process for Panama’s new fisheries law.

Prior to its release, the assessment was discussed with with 10 journalist during a media briefing in Panama City on the 1st of March. During this meeting, Nicolás Rovegno, FiTI’s Regional Coordinator for the Latin America, emphasized that “This TAKING STOCK assessment helps stakeholders in Panama to clearly understand what is and what is not published regarding the country’s fisheries sector. But ultimately, only the commitment towards implementing the FiTI Standard would demonstrate Panama’s sincere commitment to transparency and public participation in marine fisheries management.”

Panama’s TAKING STOCK assessment is available to download as a Summary Assessment Report (English and Spanish), as well as a complementary in-depth Detailed Assessment Report (Spanish):

The assessment for Panama was funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and conducted under the supervision and responsibility of the FiTI International Secretariat.