Stab Magazine | The Head Of Argentina's Surfrider Foundation Tries To Build Pier At Bocas del Toro

The Head Of Argentina’s Surfrider Foundation Tries To Build Pier At Bocas del Toro

That very same development that’s got Kelly Slater and locals in an uproar. 

Words by stab

Surfers, we assume, share a common respect for the environment. However, Argentinean Surfrider Prez, Ernesto Gutierrez Conte and his nephew, Juan Medo, plan on building a 130-foot dock on live coral reef at Paunch, in Bocas Del Toro, Panama. 

Medo and Conte, own La Coralina, a hotel that occupies the point at Paunch, regularly surf the wave that they plan on altering for their benefit.

Despite local protest, and advice from contractors, who said that the dock would cause environmental harm and be at risk during large surf, the wealthy Argentinean surfers are going through with their plans.

Construction crews have cleared 500 feet of jungle at the proposed site. And, on June 7th, hired workers placed rebar in the reef where the dock will be.

Stab spoke to Scott Balogh, owner of Red Frog Bungalows, who said that the local government of Bocas Del Toro didn’t approve of this project, but Gutierrez and Medo, have found government entities in Panama City to sign off on it without local approval.

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

While many hotels and bars have docks in the archipelago chains of Bocas del Toro, they are not a direct hazard to surfers or the ecosystem. The proposed site is where surfers enter and exit the wave through a keyhole in the reef. Meaning, as Kelly Slater told Stab, “It makes absolutely no sense. The waves would destroy any pier within months and the pier would be in the current line of the wave. Surfers would get stuck in it after a wave or wipeout.”

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

Many Panamanians in Bocas, work as panga boat captains, ferrying surfers to and from Paunch and waves nearby. They rely on mooring in the channel at Paunch to idle their boats while surfers enjoy the A-Frame. If the dock is built, then access to the wave would be diminished.

If you would like to help oppose the development of one of the Caribbean’s best waves, join the fight on Facebook at Salvemos Playa Paunch and sign a petition here.

Special thanks to Angie Whittemore, and Juan David Issac for spearheading the opposition and fighting to protect Paunch for the rest of us.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Meet Liv Stone, The Pennsylvania-Born Para Surf World Champion

It’s feel-good time!

Nov 27, 2021

We’re Having Trouble Picking Snapt4’s ‘Best Barrel’ and Monster ‘Maneuver’

Here are the official nominees. Help us out.

Nov 27, 2021

Stab Podcast: Will Peninsula Boy Kelly Slater Spin His Way To Glory At Haleiwa?

Let's hope nobody leaves a menacing note on his car.

Nov 26, 2021


Watch: Lucas Godfrey Is The Most Barreled Man Of The Summer

Puerto Escondido has rarely been surfed like this.

Nov 26, 2021

Watch: Final Episode Of Stab Highway Presented By Monster Energy

It's time to go home.

Nov 26, 2021


Every Once In A While, A Genuine Super-Talent Rears His Pretty Little Head

Bronson Meydi might be that kid.

Nov 25, 2021

Haydenshapes Is Doing A Flash Sale On Their Most Precious Blood Diamonds

7 limited edition ‘altered’ surfboards, discounts, and an exclusive art series rollout across stock models.

Nov 25, 2021

Who’s Going To Make The CT This Year?

Haleiwa, prophesied.

Nov 24, 2021

Let’s Get You A Free Private Session At URBNSURF

We're treating six Stab Premium members to a free surf and tickets to the URBNSURF…

Nov 24, 2021


Nic Von Rupp Just Tamed A Giant Nazaré Tube By Hand (No Ski)

Yes, this is a paddle-in.

Nov 23, 2021


Watch: The Best ‘Shit Waves’ We’ve Seen With Dane Reynolds And Co.

Everything is relative.

Nov 23, 2021

Luca Padua Is A Badass Motherfucker

Meet the 19-year old big-wave prodigy being mentored by Laird Hamilton.

Nov 23, 2021

“My Wife Probably Wouldn’t Have Been Bitten By A Pit Viper If We Lived On A Charter Boat”

A land-based surf camp owner explains how his life and business differ from a boat-based…

Nov 23, 2021


Jordy And J-Bay Go Together Like Old Bay And Popcorn

Grab a fistful and inhale.

Nov 22, 2021

Opinion: In The Age Of The Vlog, It’s Getting Harder To Find Good Surf Films

Surfing and storytelling are two entirely different skillsets.

Nov 22, 2021


Cole Houshmand Gets Crapped On By A Bird, Proceeds To Score Out Of His Mind

Smooth, surgical lines from the San Clemente gentleman in 'Good Luck'.

Nov 22, 2021


Erin Brooks Is A Rare Type Of Talent — We Can’t Stop Watching

Watch the Ladybird air-drop into Kandui caverns with a grin on her face.

Nov 22, 2021

Watch: Harry Bryant’s Feary Sydney Harbour Bridge Swim

One for the history books.

Nov 22, 2021