How important is recreational fishing to the economy of Panama? A report released today by The Billfish Foundation shows that in 2011 more than 86,000 visitors fished in Panama and spent $97 million on charter boats, fuel, food, lodging and related expenses. Sport fishing in Panama provided 9,500 jobs. Every angler who visited Panama accounted for $552 of economic growth, according to the study, titled “Sportfishing in Panama: A Natural Economic Gold Mine.”
Why do anglers choose to go to Panama? According to the report, the reason cited more than any other was the quality of fishing the country offers. Reasons also given for planning fishing trips in Panama: reasonable cost of travel, safety, and availability of quality charter boats. A remarkable 87 percent of anglers surveyed were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their fishing trips in Panama.
The number of anglers visiting the country doubled between 2001 and 2011, suggesting the economic surge may continue. But “governmental agencies [must] continue to maintain topnotch fishing, which requires an abundance of fish … from good management and strong, well-enforced fisheries regulations,” says TBF president Ellen Peel.
“Anglers reported they favor favor fishing destinations that tightly and effectively control commercial and recreational harvests,” Peel adds. “Panama needs to communicate that they are on board with these tourism-driving factors.”