PANAMA’S Environment MINISTRY (MiAmbiente) has introduced fines of up to $10,000 for harassment of whales and dolphins.
The measure announced Wednesday, October 18 seeks to guarantee the safety of those involved and to avoid stress to the species, which represent a potential for ecotourism.
A resolution adopted five days earlier establishes fines ranging from $1,000 for approaching less than 250 meters, up to $5,000 for approaching less than 50 meters and for recidivism double the fine or up to $10,000.
Environmentalists welcomed the move, but eyebrows were raised when it was equated with tourism revenue.
Environment Minister Emilio Sempris said: "this regulation was necessary, as we are experimenting with a major boom in ecotourism in Panama, and we do not want the irresponsible sighting of whales and dolphins off our coasts and seas, impacting the balance of the ecosystem and the income that is generated for the country by this ecotourism activity."
Usually it is pretty obvious when a boat is harassing or chasing whales/dolphins. At sea dolphins will come to a moving boat to ride the bow wave and to check you out. Dolphin chasing is pretty uncontrolled in the small bays of Bocas del Toro. I was a Captain of dolphin watch boats in the Fl. Keys and we had a well devised monitoring and sharing plan for observing the local dolphin population.
I can see this if the boat goes to the whale But if the whale comes near the boat it does so on its own free will . So unless they have whale cops this is going to be a tough one