Stab Magazine | Construction Of Controversial Bocas Del Toro Pier Put On Hold

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Construction Of Controversial Bocas Del Toro Pier Put On Hold

Paunch lives to see another day.

news // Jun 12, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Talk about the illegal 40-metre pier being built over the reef at Paunch, in Bocas Del Toro, Panama, has been circulating for the past week now. Originally proposed by the President of the Argentinean chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, Ernesto Gutierrez Conte, and his nephew, Juan Medo, the pier’s construction has been met with heavy protest from locals, contractors and surfers (including Kelly Slater) alike. 

However, it now appears that the pier’s construction has been put on hold. According to Red Frog Bungalows, a surf resort in Bocas Del Toro, the pier’s development is now being investigated. They shared the news on their Instagram earlier today, which reads:

Screen Shot 2017 06 12 at 12.05.05 PM

“Good News!!!! The pier at Paunch has been put on hold for more investigation. Well done to everyone involved. Let’s move forward with constructive dialogue. Keep the threats to yourselves and continue to be peaceful to get this situation resolved for once and for all. Let’s make our community in Bocas Del Toro be a positive role model for the rest of Panama and the rest of the world. Peaceful yet Powerful! Now let’s all go get barreled out there! #peacefulyetpowerful.”

When Stab spoke to Scott Balogh, the owner of Red Frog Bungalows, a few days ago, he voiced his concerns about the pier. Specifically emphasising that the local Bocas Del Toro government never approved of the project in the first place.

“Piers and small docks do not require any environmental impact study,” Scott told Stab. “However, a dock size does require an environmental impact study. The local branch of MiAmbiente did not sign off on this and knew nothing about it.

“Surfing is the number one draw to Bocos del Toro, and its waves are of tremendous economic value bringing in tens of millions of dollars every year. This development would benefit very few, and none of those being locals.”

On top of both environmental and economic concerns, many pointed out that the location of the pier made little to no sense at all, either. As waves would destroy the structure within months. A consequence of it being placed in direct line with the surf.

Protestors have been signing petitions and making their voices heard. And it’s worked. While it’s not entirely clear that the investigation will cause construction of the pier to cease altogether, it’s a major step in the right direction. Still, this doesn’t mean the fight to save Paunch is entirely over just yet.

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