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Can You Eat Marlin and How Does it Taste?

You just landed the trophy fish of a lifetime, a giant Blue Marlin weighing over 500 pounds. 

striped marlin swimming

You high five your fishing buddies and celebrate your big battle.  Now the next question might be, can you eat marlin?

There is much debate as to whether you can eat marlin or with a clear conscience.  Marlin have a distinct aesthetic, leading many to think they have an exotic taste. 

a marlin on a fishing line

Their bill is unique to different types of marlin and other billfish.

This inherent weapon characteristic of all marlin fish means they have few predators that dare attempt to harm them. 

Furthermore, blue marlins are particularly aggressive, especially after biting into a trolling lure or bait, sometimes the ensuing battle with anglers can last for hours. 

marlin caught on a fishing line

Marlin are primarily thought to be a sport fish prized by competitive anglers around the globe. Let’s take a look at whether you can eat marlin or not.

Do People Eat Marlin?

In short, the answer to the question of “Can you eat marlin?” is “Yes”, yet perhaps the more important question is whether marlin tastes good enough to justify eating. 

Some argue the gamey taste of marlin fish means it is better to release them rather than consume them. 

What Does Marlin Taste Like?

Chicken!  Just kidding.  Marlin are somewhat similar to swordfish in terms of look, yet do not taste exactly the same as swordfish. 

marlin coming up out of the water

Most people say marlin tastes much like tuna although a little stronger in flavor. 

In fact, blue marlin are not on nearly as many restaurant menus as swordfish and tuna.  Why?  Marlin is an unpopular choice for menu dishes even though it is quite a great tasting fish. 

Others rest their argument against eating marlin on the fact they are more for sport and that is worth preserving. 

marlin jumping out of the water

Take a close look at the next marlin you catch and you will agree it is one of the more visually striking sport fishes in the water. 

Is Marlin Edible?

Marlin is quite edible and also considered a delicacy.  Smoked marlin is a very popular dish around the world and quite tasty if you have ever indulged. 

a marlin caught with a lure in its mouth

I have noticed it on the menu in several South American countries throughout my travels. 

Let’s revisit the initial question, is marlin edible.  The answer is “Yes”.  Yet the more appropriate question is whether eating marlin is morally justifiable due to their endangered species status. 

marlin leaping from the water

Even if you do not mind depleting the limited number of marlin fish in the water, you might enjoy the taste of marlin. 

Can You Eat Marlin Raw?

Yes, marlin is delicious when eaten raw.  In fact, several parts of Japan regularly consume Marlin as sashimi. 

marlin sashimi on restaurant menu

Sashimi is a culinary delicacy, primarily served in Asian countries, comprised of fresh raw fish that is diced into small pieces and served with soy sauce.

Like any fish though, make sure it was handled properly and is very fresh if you want to eat it raw.  Otherwise we suggest cooking your marlin fillets.

The Marlin Population is Quickly Shrinking

Blue marlins are one of the ocean’s most threatened species.  As a result, there is extensive and continuously expanding regulation pertaining to these idiosyncratic fish. 

catching a blue marlin

Blue marlin are almost always released right back into the water after being caught by recreational fishermen. Unless it is during a prized fishing tournament.

However, if the fish dies while on the line, there is a chance the fisherman will decide to keep the catch and eat it for dinner. 

Sport fisherman will ultimately play a key role in determining the fate of the marlin population. 

a closeup of a marlin's eye

If you would like to see the marlin population maintained or even grow in number, do not consume this fish. 

If everyone agreed to avoid eating marlin, that many more beautiful marlin fish would swim throughout the ocean in the future, ultimately enhancing aquatic diversity across posterity.  

In fact, some even argue that billfish anglers should alter their fishing tackle to the point that it facilitates the release of marlin safely. Circle hooks are recommended.

person catching a marlin on a boat

The overarching goal is to ensure marlin prove capable of not only surviving after biting into bait and being reeled toward the boat but expanding their numbers to the point that they repopulate and thrive. 

Is it Safe to Eat Marlin?

Marlin can be high in mercury if the fish is older and larger. The longer these marlin live the more the consume and more mercury might be in their food supplies as well. 

smoked blue marlin dish

Like other types of billfish, its best to only consume it a few times per year to be safe.

There are plenty of other tastier fish in the water that are not on the endangered lists.  Expand your culinary horizons away from marlin, do your part to preserve this fish’s dwindling population and you will have made a positive impact on your increasingly fragile surroundings.

So, the choice is yours.  To eat or not to eat the next marlin you catch. After all, there are plenty of other tasty fish in the sea!

1 comment

  • If they are endangered, why are they having white marlin competitions annually? Obviously they are not released back into the sea. 😡