29 Jan 2009

Take Marlin off the Menu

The International Game Fish Association has recently partnered with The Billfish Foundation and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation on a proactive campaign to ban the importation and sale of billfish (marlin, sailfish and spearfish) in the United States.
Titled “Take Marlin off the Menu,” the campaign is educating people about what billfish are, their role in the ecosystem, and their imperiled state from commercial over-fishing.
“Through education and political advocacy our ultimate goal is to end the commercial harvest, sale and importation of marlin, sailfish and spearfish in the United States,” said IGFA Conservation Director Jason Schratwieser.
Why is this a problem?
“Billfish stocks are in poor shape globally. As top predators, these fish are naturally less abundant than the species they prey on, yet commercial over-fishing has caused precipitous declines in their abundance,” reported Schratwieser. “In 2007, the IGFA commissioned a report to find out which countries were harvesting, exporting and importing the most billfish.
“What we found shocked us,” he stated. “The United States has the dubious distinction of being the world’s largest importer of billfish. What’s worse is that this entire industry results in few jobs and little revenue. In fact the total US billfish harvest and trade is only 0.07% of the total income of all commercial fishing in the US.”
Need another reason to stop eating billfish?
“They can contain harmful levels of mercury,” Schratwieser said.
“The United States Environmental Protection Agency health guidelines for fish consumption indicate that any fish with a mercury level greater than 1.5 parts per million (ppm) should not be consumed in any amount. Marlin, especially large specimens, have been found to have mercury levels as high as 15 ppm, and a recent study reported an average mercury level of 4.08 ppm for blue marlin sampled in Australian waters. Some fish are just more prone to accumulating mercury. King mackerel and sharks are also culprits,” added Schratwieser.
“The US billfish trade just doesn’t make sense.”
To join the three organizations in the fight to ban billfish importation and sale, visit the “Take Marlin off the Menu” web site at http://www.takemarlinoffthemenu.org/home to get more information on the campaign and to find out how you can help.