Wegmans Food Markets has endorsed a 'Take Marlin Off the Menu Campaign', refusing to sell marlin, sailfish and spearfish at its stores, the company said on Wednesday (10 June).

The group said on Wednesday (10 June) the campaign "reaffirms" its commitment to selling sustainable seafood and will be implemented throughout its 72 stores located in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia and Maryland.

The 'Take Marlin Off the Menu Campaign', launched eight months ago by the International Game Fish Association, was designed to let consumers know they can purchase seafood at a Wegmans supermarket knowing it is "Marlin free."

The populations of Marlin have declined 80% from their peak several decades ago, according to a national Harris Interactive consumer survey.

Wegmans said it is urging other supermarket chains throughout the US to follow suit.

"As an industry, we have a great deal of influence in what Americans eat," said Carl Salamone, vice president 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 fish and seafood that is flavourful and good for our environment. Because when the marlin are gone, we all lose."

"This is a huge step for our campaign because Wegmans is respected by consumers for its commitment to customer service," adds Ken Hinman, president of the National Coalition for Marine Conservation, located in the Washington D.C. area, "as well as throughout the supermarket industry for its innovation. We applaud Wegmans for stepping forward among its peers in the supermarket industry and coming out on the side of marlin and other billfish."

Ellen Peel, president of The Billfish Foundation added: "The challenge facing the campaign is drawing awareness to the plight of marlin and other billfish. Unfortunately, many Americans are not aware that marlin have suffered a dramatic population decline."