BUSINESS: Going Green Costa Launches the Marlin Fly Project, Joining With Conservation Partners to Study and Protect Striped Marlin By Gwendolyn Plummer Friday, October 27, 2023 8:30 AM Costa worked alongside Costa Pros, Costa partners, leading fisheries' scientists, Costa team members, local fly-fishing operation Los Locos Mag Bay, local captains and the community of San Carlos, Mexico. Image via Costa and Nick Price Photography JUPITER, Fla.—Costa Sunglasses go hand in hand with life on the water for millions of people worldwide—a fact that the team behind Costa does not take for granted. The brand has long been committed to protecting the Earth’s waterways through various means, from beach cleanups to groundbreaking recycling programs—but its most recent project, the Marlin Fly Project, took this commitment somewhere totally new. Announced earlier this month, Costa’s Marlin Fly Project is the first recorded billfish research mission solely using fly tackle. Costa undertook this project alongside the locals of San Carlos, Mexico, The Billfish Foundation (TBF) and International Game Fish Association (IGFA), successfully deploying 15 satellite tags in two days to better understand the Striped Marlin, an understudied billfish species that lives in Magdalena “Mag” Bay in Southwestern Baja, Mexico. The Striped Marlin has “only a brief history of minimal scientific research—making them one of the least understood billfish species,” Costa explained in a statement. Jed Larkin, brand director for Costa Sunglasses, elaborated: “The epic fishing tales coming out of Magdalena ‘Mag’ Bay alone attracted us to the region in 2021, but what we found there was an authentic community, rich with culture, built alongside an untamed ecosystem. That trip sparked a trailblazing idea—what if we brought our global community of scientists, partners and pros together with the local community of San Carlos to research and protect this special resource? And that’s how Marlin Fly was born. Rooted in both community and conservation, this project is everything we stand for as a brand.” Costa’s Marlin Fly Project is the first recorded billfish research mission solely using fly tackle. Image via Costa and Nick Price Photography Dr. Bruce Pohlot, IGFA conservation director, said, “There’s no place on earth with an ecosystem quite like Mag Bay. Every year anglers from around the world travel to this unique destination to experience one of the most incredible billfish fisheries on the planet. But the reality is, there has not been a lot of scientific research done on this population of Striped Marlin in the Eastern Pacific. That’s why the IGFA was happy to jump on board with our longtime partners at Costa when they started asking questions about what can be done to protect this magnificent resource.” With the help of Costa Pros, Costa partners, leading fisheries' scientists, Costa team members, local fly-fishing operation Los Locos Mag Bay, local captains and the community of San Carlos, Mexico, the Marlin Fly Project made history as the first recorded billfish tagging mission completed on fly. The expert team deployed 15 short- and long-term satellite tags and 20 spaghetti tags—seven of which were donated by The Billfish Foundation, and three purchased as part of IGFA’s Great Marlin Race. These tags will bring back findings that will help fill crucial data gaps on this understudied striped marlin population, including post-release survivability, migrational patterns, swimming depth and water temperature. This information will in turn help protect and manage this highly migratory species of fish. Scientists from The Billfish Foundation, International Game Fish Association and the University of Southern Mississippi Center for Fisheries Research & Development, vetted all landed fish to make sure they were viable candidates prior to tagging. All landed and tagged fish were healthy and swam off strong. The Marlin Fly Project team worked alongside the local community throughout the project. Image via Costa and Nick Price Photography Peter Chaibongsai, director of conservation programs at The Billfish Foundation, said, “Through this collaboration, Costa's Marlin Fly Project is set to collect unparalleled data about Striped Marlin that will help play a pivotal role in supporting conservation and enhancing fisheries management efforts. We’re honored to be a part of such a unique project that puts community at the forefront. The strong bond forged with the locals not only enables them, but also fosters a sense of advocacy. This ensures that the project's impact extends far beyond scientific research—it creates a network of passionate advocates dedicated to conserving this resource for years to come.” In addition, the Marlin Fly Project team worked alongside the local community as much as possible throughout the course of the project. Team members stayed at a local hotel, ate locally and used local guides to complete the mission. During the stay, the team also cleaned up local beaches, waterways and boat ramps. Community-first nonprofit and original Costa-born project, Indifly, joined the mission to meet with the community of San Carlos and assess a potential social impact project. Inspired by both the people and operation, Indifly plans to collaborate with San Carlos, the Marlin Fly Project, and Los Locos to innovate ways for this vital community to write their own future. Partner Finns West outfitted the Los Locos operation and guide boats with safety equipment and medical training. Finally, Costa partnered with Travel Creel, who hosted cooking classes in the community, and sourced produce, meats and seafood from local fisherman and farmers to prepare dinners each night to feed the crew. Moving forward, the Marlin Fly Project will continue to create advocates for the Striped Marlin fishery both locally and globally, fostering relationships and supporting the ecosystem and those who depend on it. Costa Sunglasses will release its Second Edition: Protect Purpose Report next month. Led by the success of the Marlin Fly Project, The Protect Report highlights Costa’s commitment to conservation, community and sustainability in 2021-2022.