San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Sustainable certification will require new rules on fish

The Costa Rican Tourism Institute has officially gotten on board with the conservation of threatened fish species such as sailfish and marlin by adding new regulations for businesses that want to receive a Certificate of Sustainable Tourism.

The new guidelines, backed by the MarViva Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that promotes conservation and sustainable use of marine resources, aim to protect vulnerable fish species by denying certificates to businesses that disregard responsible fishing practices or that include prohibited or endangered fish species on their menus. The certification program categorizes tourism businesses based on sustainable practices and businesses’ management of natural, cultural and social resources.

“These actions are a relevant contribution to the conservation of billfish and other vulnerable species whose populations are threatened,” said Jorge Jiménez, general director of MarViva.

Other guidelines now included in the tourism institute’s consideration for sustainable tourism certification include requiring tourism businesses to get fish products from suppliers that use responsible fishing practices. Under the new guidelines restaurants that offer billfish, such as marlin or sailfish, and other popular sport fish, such as roosterfish, will be ineligible for certification. Businesses serving fish will also be required to provide information about their products, which will include the scientific and common names of the fish and the area in which it was caught.

Sailfish and marlin are popular sport fishing species. Their populations have seen sharp declines in recent years, according to information provided by MarViva. Sport fishing for these species, says MarViva, generates higher annual revenues than commercial fishing.

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