Colombia and Panama Updates – June 2022

Photo courtesy of Trey Russo in Panama.

Sportfishing Banned in Colombia – Beginning in 2023

The Supreme Court of Colombia recently ruled that sportfishing, even catch and release, amounts to torture, thus prohibiting the sport in marine and fresh waters. The court decision proclaimed the practice “violates the principles of environmental protection and animal welfare” and “demonstrates the risk of damage to the environment.” The prohibition is to be phased in over the next year.

We at TBF are extremely disappointed the issue did not meet a formidable challenge before reaching the highest court in the nation. Their burgeoning sportfishing industry will surely suffer. To prevent further spread of such extreme actions, both the sportfishing and tourism industries must remain united and informed, working together to challenge threats such as these.


Mega Yacht Tourism in Panama

The Panamanian government recently labeled sportfishing as a “significant component in its Sustainable Tourism Master Plan.” The recognition was part of a contract signing ceremony with the University of Miami’s, Dr. Nelson Ehrhardt, who is to conduct studies of fish stocks in Panama’s waters and develop an action plan to grow sportfishing.

A new growth area in sportfishing now targeted by government officials is the development of a mega sportfishing yacht segment to fish in remote areas in Panama. Each mega yacht is being viewed as a separate economic engine, as distinct from the established segment of individual tourists traveling to Panama and chartering a fishing vessel at established marinas. The mega yacht segment is scheduled to be operational before the current president leaves office in 2 years.

The new development is not without major obstacles as pointed out by a mega yacht owner in attendance at the roundtable discussion held in conjunction with the contract signing.  The individual described the challenges faced today when trying to enter Panama with a large vessel and added the same struggles exist with private jets. He stressed while access to black marlin is the motivation to visit Panama, the current government hassles are not worth the possible reward. Another discussion contributor added that unrealistic obstacles also exist when bringing organized groups of anglers and hosting entities into Panama to fish remote locations. No doubt, implementing the new plans within two years is very ambitious, but we wish the government officials success.