San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Hilton, Auto Mercado no longer sell marlin, sailfish

The Costa Rican Federation of Fishing Tourism (FECOPT) and hotel chain Hilton Worldwide, with locations in Costa Rica in Puntarenas, Liberia, Papagayo and San José, this week signed an agreement to eliminate marlin and sailfish from hotel restaurant menus. Hilton becomes the first hotel chain in Costa Rica to take the step as part of its program for Social and Environmental Responsibility. 

The decision not to serve these two types of fish aims to both protect a vulnerable species that is crucial to Costa Rican sportfishing tourism while keeping consumers safe from products that may be high in mercury content, a statement from FECOPT said. Sportfishing accounts for 27 percent of tourism income in Costa Rica.

Also this week, supermarket chain Auto Mercado announced it would remove from its shelves sailfish, marlin, shark and corvineta. A spokesman for Auto Mercado said the store decided to remove corvineta after lab tests revealed high levels of mercury and other toxins in the fish. 

FECOPT Executive Director Enrique Ramírez praised the move. Ricardo Rodríguez, general manager of Hilton’s DoubleTree Resort in the Pacific port of Puntarenas, promised similar measures in the future to promote sustainable tourism and the responsible use of resources.

Studies have shown that sailfish and marlin are more valuable alive as a benefit to the sportfishing industry, and the estimated value of a live marlin or sailfish is about $3,000, while their value is only $125 each when sold as food. Sportfishing in Costa Rica generates some 63,000 jobs and $78 million in tax revenue, according to FECOPT. 

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