Campaign Looks To Help Marlin

OCEAN CITY – Although Ocean City is known as the White Marlin Capital of the World, you’ll probably never see it on a menu in a local restaurant.

What could be considered sacrilege by some in the local fishing community to see the area’s number one sport fish and part of the town’s claim to fame served as a blue plate special at a local restaurant is apparently a reality elsewhere in the U.S.

“It just wouldn’t make sense to put it on the menu, said Marlin Moon Grille owner Gary Beach. “Plus, I’ve never heard anyone really ask for it either in Ocean City.”

A group of fishing advocates, including the International Game Fish Association, the Billfish Foundation, and the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, has recently launched the “Take Marlin off the Menu” campaign, which has been launched, according to Jason Schratweiser, director of conservation for the IGFA, because of the declining number of billfish, including blue and white marlin, whose populations have been depleted by commercial fishing.

Though it is technically against the law to harvest marlin, sailfish, and spearfish from the Atlantic Ocean, it has become an issue according to the campaign because the United States is the largest importer of marlin in the world, importing 1,335 metric tons of billfish with a value of $5.2 million, based on FDA customs clearances.

Marlin can be found in upscale grocery stores in the seafood booth, often sold to be used in the creation of sushi dishes, as well as on many menus in restaurants in midwest and western part of the United States who use marlin and other billfish as a “blackboard” item to be used as a special and/or exotic dish, according to Ken Hinman, President of the Virginia based- NCMC.

“We get reports from anglers when they see (marlin) on a menu, and those reports have been pretty consistent over the years,” said Hinman, “but last year, there were about two million pounds of marlin coming in from the Pacific, which is almost 11,000 fish …”

Hinman said that the campaign, which launched its website in November, hopes to get the word out to chefs, retailers and consumers to end the supply and the demand for marlin in the United States.

“Anglers are already out there conserving these beautiful and magnificent creatures in the Atlantic Ocean, but in the Pacific there are no rules protecting these fish,” Hinman said. “They are keystone predators that are vital to the eco-system and the food chain just like sharks and other large fish, which we can’t afford to lose.”