While fishing in the United States continues to draw millions of enthusiasts each year, it is this keen interest in the sport that sends sportsmen abroad, boosting the local economies of smaller nations as well. With excellent saltwater sportfishing, Panama is one of these countries that benefits economically from the tourism generated by traveling anglers-to the tune of $97 million a year.
The study, “Sportfishing in Panama: A Natural Economic Gold Mine,” was conducted by Southwick Associates on behalf of The Billfish Foundation (TBF) and funded by the Panamanian government’s National Secretariat of Science, Technology and Innovation (SENACYT). Results of the study revealed in 2011 (the most recent available data), as many as 86,250 visitors fished in Panama, spending $97 million on charter boats, fuel, lodging, meals and other expenses related to their visit.
SW_Panama_DaisyElaine.jpgHistorical data revealed the number of anglers visiting the country since 2001 had doubled and suggested that Panama has the potential of attracting even more anglers through proper marketing and sustainable management practices. In fact, the report surmised for every angler who has actually fished Panama, there are eight more U.S. anglers interested in visiting, yielding a potential economic windfall of an additional $776 million for the Panamanian economy. To realize the potential yield, however, anglers’ feedback show it is incumbent that Panama protect the quality of sportfishing off the country’s shores and maintain the level of opportunity in both number and quality of fish anglers currently catch.
“This boom in tourism in Panama is really no surprise. Panama’s wonderful climate, natural beauty and amazing beaches alone are major attractions, but one in four tourists that fished visited Panama JUST to fish,” said Ellen Peel, president of TBF. “It is paramount, though, that governmental agencies continue to focus on implementing responsible management and conservation measures for marine fisheries and continue to restrain foreign purse seine and local longline vessels for the benefit of billfish and all species. If managed correctly, Panama’s sportfishing sector will become an even bigger cash-cow for Panama’s tourism economy.”
Logo courtesy The Billfish Foundation