San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Wal-Mart Lets Billfish Off the Hook

Corporate giant Wal-Mart, owners of Costa Rican supermarket chains Más x Menos and Hipermas, has stopped selling billfish, whose populations are declining. “It’s the first step,” said Todd Staley, vice president of the Costa Rican Association of Tourist Fishing. “By law, sailfish are supposed to be a protected species … and there are so many loopholes.”

To Staley, the problem is the export market.

“If we take the exportation away, we’re talking about saving 60 to 80,000 sailfish a year,” Staley said. “On a catch and release, a fish for sport fishing, has much more value … than a dollar per pound.”

Sustainability is key, and the economy risks losing money if populations are not correctly managed.

“The sports fishing industry is worth at least $200 million a year,” Staley said. “And for the kills, (Costa Rica only gets) $3 million a year.”

Wal-Mart is also helping the Friends of Cocos Island Foundation raise money to curtail illegal fishing, according to Jesica Chavarria, a spokeswoman for the environmental group.

“Wal-Mart has started a series of interesting programs for the environment,” Chavarría said. “Wal-Mart is selling eight stickers at their stores to raise money for us.

They sent us a check for $100,000.”

Nicolas Ruggia


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