Wegmans boycotts marlin, other billfish

Wegmans Food Markets announced on Wednesday that it will not sell marlin, sailfish and spearfish at any of its 72 stores in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

The Rochester, N.Y.-based company is the first U.S. supermarket chain to join the "Take Marlin Off The Menu" campaign, launched in November 2008 by the International Game Fish Association (IGFA), the Billfish Foundation (TBF) and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation (NCMC).

Wegmans actually halted marlin sales in September 2008. The billfish represented only a small percentage of the retailer's total seafood sales.

"After researching the marlin fisheries in the Pacific Ocean we felt there were few adequate protections in place to monitor the biomass," Wegmans spokeswoman Jeanne Colleluori told SeafoodSource. "Knowing that, we made the decision that we did not want to participate in taking from those fisheries until the day comes when they are strictly monitored and there is an adequate biomass in place."

Wegmans published its Sustainable Seafood Sourcing Philosophy last year. In line with the initiative, the retailer has halted sales of a handful of species, including shark and bluefin tuna, due to sustainability concerns.

"As an industry, we have a great deal of influence in what Americans eat," said Carl Salamone, Wegmans' VP of seafood. "Every day, in supermarkets across the country, consumers ask seafood professionals what's great to eat. That's when we can point consumers to seafood that is flavorful and good for our environment. Because when the marlin are gone, we all lose."

The "Take Marlin" campaign is aimed at persuading U.S. chefs and retailers to boycott marlin. The goal is to stop marlin overfishing in the Atlantic and Pacific by reducing demand for the billfish.

"This is a huge step for our campaign because Wegmans is respected by consumers for its commitment to customer service, as well as throughout the supermarket industry for its innovation," said Ken Hinman, NCMC president. "We applaud Wegmans for stepping forward among its peers in the supermarket industry and coming out on the side of marlin and other billfish."

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