Akule (Bigeye Scad)
Akule or big-eye scad is a tropical fish that is found in huge schools either inshore or in the open ocean around the world. It is the most popular reef fish in
Akule are unique in that they spend their life between two marine habitats, the coral reef and open ocean. They are classified as “coastal pelagic” fish. Akule aggregate when spawning, in which they spawn pelagic eggs that hatch into pelagic larvae. Juveniles, called Halalū, migrate inshore and recruit into schools when they are about three to six inches. They spend the next eight to 12 months growing to sexual maturity, around nine inches. They can grow up to 15 inches, but most are between 8 and 10 inches. Adults then move to the open ocean, where they will spend most of their adult life. Adult
Bluefish live in temperate and tropical waters around the world with the exception of the eastern Pacific. They are a popular recreational fish along the U.S. Atlantic coast, ranging from eastern Florida to Maine. They can grow to more than 30 pounds (14 kg), gather in large schools and are aggressive feeders.
Bluefish have a bluish green back and silvery sides and underbelly. They have a broad, forked tail, a spiny first dorsal fin, a pointed snout and a prominent jaw, with sharp, compressed teeth. Fillets have a rich, full flavour and coarse, moist texture. Since they prey on small, oil-rich fish, older bluefish tend to have a stronger flavour.
Bluefish are common in pelagic waters on continental shelves around the world. They can be found along the U.S. Atlantic coast, Africa, the Mediterranean and Black Seas, Southeast Asia and Australia. They often migrate from warm to cooler waters in the summer months. In the United States, bluefish are found off Florida in the winter months and by June can be found in New England waters. They mature at two years, when females can lay between 400,000 and 2 million eggs. They spawn in the open ocean, where larvae develop into juveniles and then migrate to estuaries and near-shore habitats. Bluefish can live up to 14 years and grow to more than 30 pounds (14 kg). They are voracious feeders whereby large schools attack forage fish near the surface, churning the water in what is called a “bluefish blitz.” They feed on squid, menhaden and other small forage fish.
Bigeye Tuna (Thunnus obesus)
In Hawaii, “Ahi” refers to two species, the Bigeye Tuna and the Yellowfin Tuna. Similar in general appearance, the Bigeye may be recognized by its plump body, its larger head and its unusually large eyes. Caught in deeper, cooler water, Bigeye Tuna typically has a higher fat content than Yellowfin and is preferred by sashimi lovers. The majority of Hawaiʻi’s bigeye tuna are caught by deep-set longline fishing gear off shore of Hawaiʻi. The remainder of Hawaiian Bigeye Tuna landings come from handliners and trollers. Peak Bigeye landings occur from October through April. Learn More
Blue Marlin (Kajiki)
Blue marlin, or Kajiki in Japanese, is distinguished by its large size, heavy bill and rougher, darker skin compared to its more slender cousin the striped marlin. Marlins are a highly migratory fish living at the top of the food chain in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world’s oceans. The blue marlin is found in the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic. It is a member of a larger family known as billfish, which get their name from their upper jaw that extends to form a spear. Because of its immense size, weighing up to 1,600 pounds,
Blue marlin have a dark blue and even blackish
Marlin are highly migratory and, therefore, not a lot is known about their spawning periods and behaviors. However, they are highly fecund producing up to 500,000 eggs in a single spawning event. They can live up to 20 years. In the Pacific, adult marlin are found in the north and south-central Pacific. They spawn in the central Pacific and central Mexico. They favor water temperatures of 20 to 25 degrees Celcius and spend most of their time near the surface of the water. Marlin are solitary fishes and are known to make regular seasonal migrations, moving toward the equator in winter and away in summer. They feed on epipelagic fishes including mackerel, sardines and anchovies. They will also feed on squid and small crustaceans when given the chance. Marlin use their large bills to stun their prey by thrash through schools of fish.
Ehu (Red Snapper)
Ehu reach sexual maturity at about 9 to 11 inches, or three years old. Like many other bottomfish, Ehu reach peak spawning in the summer months, from July through September. Their pelagic eggs are released into the water column. The pelagic larvae swim in the water column for about 25 days until then move to deeper water before settling down on the ocean floor where they will spend the remainder of their adult life.
Gindai (Oblique-banded Snapper)
Gindai, or Oblique-banded Snapper, is named after its four oblique orange or yellow bars on its side. Gindai is the Japanese name for this fish, meaning “gold snapper” likely because of its golden yellow bars. It is one of Hawai’I’s “deep seven” bottomfish species, and ranges from the Indian to Pacific Ocean. Gindai live near underwater headlands and areas of high relief such as seamounts anywhere from 600 to 1,000 feet deep.
Gindai is one of the more brightly colored deep-sea snappers being pink or reddish in color. Besides its brilliantly colored bars, its dorsal fin and tail are also yellow. Gindai is most commonly, grilled, fried, baked, steamed or sauteed.
Gindai feed predominately on small fishes, shrimp, crab and other invertebrates. Like many of the other bottomfish, Gindai reach peak spawning in the summer months, from July through September, with peak spawning times in late summer. Their pelagic eggs are released into the water column. The pelagic larvae swim freely for about 25 days until they move to deeper water before settling down on the ocean floor where they will spend the remainder of their adult life. Like many of the deep ocean snappers of Hawai‘i, Gindai live near underwater headlands and areas of high relief such as seamounts anywhere from 600 to 1,000 feet deep.
Hapu`upu`u, commonly called Hawaiian sea bass or grouper, is only known to occur in the Hawaiian Islands and at seamounts just northwest of Hawaii. Groupers are able to change skin colors to blend into their natural habitat, and the hapu`upu`u is no exception. Most hapu`upu`u seen in the market are black, but fish captured in certain locations may be brownish or reddish.
Hapu`upu`u is noted for its clear white flesh that is almost as delicate in taste as that of Hawaii’s deepwater snappers.
It is a deepwater bottomfish usually caught at between 300 and 900 feet. In general, larger fish are caught at greater depths. Most of the hapu`upu`u caught off the main Hawaiian Islands are from 5 to 10 pounds in size, whereas the waters around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands yield fish mostly in the 10 to 30 pound size range.
Hapu`upu`u keeps well when properly brined and iced.
All Hawaii sea bass are line-caught. All sea bass are caught by deepwater handline gear with power reels.
Photo and information from Hawaiʻi Seafood Council. Artwork: Les Hata © Secretariat of the Pacific Community
Gorilla ogo is a fast-growing brittle seaweed that is native to the Indian and Pacific Ocean. It is popular in Asian cuisine and was introduced for aquaculture to Oʻahu in 1974 in Kāneʻohe Bay and Waikiki. This limu was originally used to produce Agar, a jelly-like substance obtained from proteins in the plant and used as a gelatin or thickener. In the wild with no native predators, this ogo flourished and took over reef flats forming thick large mats that kill coral and other native limu. It is considered a pest and invasive species.
Gorilla ogo is a brittle seaweed with cylindrical branches that grows into thick intertwining mats up to 15 cm (3 inches) thick. It turns yellowish in sunny spots and dark green or brownish in shaded areas. It is often used as a crunchy addition to homemade poke or seaweed salad in Hawai’i. It can also be used to fertilize gardens.
Gorilla ogo typically grows in calm, protected waters such as tide pools and reef flats up to a depth of 4 metres (12 feet). It primarily spreads by fragmentation with pieces of seaweed floating to a new location. It doesn’t have a natural predator and so can spread widely covering corals and rocks. It can inhibit new corals from growing and crowds out native seaweeds. It has been introduced as an aquaculture product in many places around the world becoming a common invasive species.
Hawaiian goatfish get their name from two long chemosensory barbels that protrude out of their chins like whiskers on a goat. Three species are common in Hawaii including
Hawaiian Pond Fish
Hawaiian pond fish include five species that were traditionally raised in fishponds by native Hawaiians as a source of food. They all have the ability to inhabit brackish water and have even been known to travel upstream in rivers. The ability to live in many different water conditions makes these fish ideal for raising in fishponds. They have a wide distribution all over the world. The species include:
Moi, Sixfinger Threadfin, Polydactylus sexfilis
Awaawa, Hawaiian Ladyfish, Elops hawaiensis
Awa, Milkfish, Chanos chanos
‘Ama’ama, Striped mullet, Mugil cephalus
Uouoa, Sharpnose mullet, Neomyxus leuciscus
Moi, or Sixfinger threadfin, get their name from the six pectoral filaments extending from below its mouth. Moi use these filaments to probe sandy bottoms for food. They have a uniform silver color, sometimes exhibiting faint dark stripes along its body. Pond fish also include two kinds of mullet, the ‘Ama’ama, or Striped mullet and the Uouoa, or Sharpnose mullet. Uouoa are grey in the upper third of its body, fading to silver and white. They also have dark pectoral fins with a bright yellow spot at its origin. ‘Ama’ama are olive-green shading to silver and white with distinct lateral stripes. Awa, or Milkfish, have an elongated olive green body with small toothless mouths. Awa’awa, or Hawaiian ladyfish, has an extremely elongated body and are often confused with mullet.
Hawaiian Reef Cave Fish
Hawaiian cave reef fish consist of two types: flagtails (Āholehole in Hawaiian), including the species Kuhlia
The flagtail Kuhlia
Cave reef fish have evolved to have large eyes to help them see better in the low-light conditions of reef caves. The red color of both Mepachi and ‘Āweoweo allows them to seem invisible in dark reef caves where light cannot penetrate. Āhole are often seen in large schools and feed on small fish and invertebrates. They can be found in many different environments ranging from brackish water, tide pools, areas of strong surge, and caves within the reef. They tend to school during the day for protection and disperse to feed at night. Little is known on the reproduction biology of these fish. Āholehole is the only one of these fish that is currently regulated by the State of Hawaii.
Kalekale, or Lavender Snapper, is brown to bronze in color, looking very similar to their bottomfish cousin, the Opakapaka. In fact, Kalekale is often mislabeled as Opakapaka due to the high demand for the latter. Kalekale, however, can be distinguished by their lower jaw that slightly protrudes out from their body. Kalekale is one of Hawai’I’s “deep seven” bottomfish
Kalekale can be distinguished by its protruding jaw, and the iris in their eyes and pectoral fins which both have an amber or
Kalekale feed predominately on small fishes, shrimp, crab and other invertebrates. Kalekale reach sexual maturity at about 9 to 11 inches, or three years old. Like many of the other
Mahimahi, which means “very strong” in Hawai’ian, is a highly migratory pelagic species found in the world’s all tropical and subtropical waters including the Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is also known as Dolphinfish, but has no relation to dolphins, a marine mammal. The Hawai’ian name has been widely adapted as its common name. Sports fishermen covet mahimahi for its playfulness, size and beauty.
Mahimahi are blue green on the upper half of their body with golden hues on the sides, fading to white and yellow. Their sides have a mixture of dark and light spots. They also have a long dorsal fin extending along their backs. Mature males possess a prominent bony crest in front of the head. Mahimahi is a very versatile fish and can be used in many cooking applications. Because it does not have much fat, it should not be overcooked as it will dry out easily.
Mahimahi are fast growing and have a short life span, up to five years. Because of their relatively short life span, they are very productive fish, being able to reproduce at just four to five months old, or between 17 and 21 inches in length. They are thought to spawn every two to three days throughout their entire spawning season. Females release between 33,000and 66,000 eggs in each spawning event. Adult Mahimahi are either solitary or travel in loose-knit groups of two or three fish. Their streamline body and fast speeds allows them to feed on other fish and squid. They are known to congregate around large floating objects such as logs other marine debris. As such, many fishermen that are targeting Mahimahi look for floating debris.
Onaga (Ruby Snapper)
Onaga, or Ruby Snapper, is named after its bright red appearance and has large eyes that allow it to live in the deep sea. It is better known by its Japanese name than Hawaiian name, ‘Ula‘ula koa‘e, which roughly translate as “the red fish with the tail of the Koa‘e bird”. It is one of Hawai’I’s “deep seven” bottomfish species, and ranges from the Indian to Pacific Ocean. Onaga inhabits rocky bottoms of continental shelves and slopes between 600 and 1,000 feet deep. It grows up to 30 pounds and 3 feet.
Onaga have a vivid scarlet color and a long slender tail whose tips may be red or black. The fish’s iris is usually a brilliant red as well. This long-lived species is often served raw as sashimi. In Japanese culture, having Onaga during weddings and New Year’s represents good luck, due to its red color.
Onaga take a relatively long time to mature. They reach sexual maturity once they grow between 23 and 35 inches in length, or four years of age. Female Onaga begin maturing in June, with fully ripe eggs in July. Peak spawning activity for does not happen until October, lasting about a month. This is most likely due to increases in water temperature and length of day. Their pelagic eggs hatch 17 to 36 hours after spawning.
Opakapaka (Pink Snapper)
Opakapaka, or pink snapper, is named after its light crimson color. Like many of the deep-sea snappers of Hawai‘i, Opakapaka live near underwater headlands and areas of high relief such as seamounts anywhere from 300 to 1,000 feet deep. They are one of the heavily managed “Deep Seven Bottomfish” of Hawai’I which also include Ehu, Onaga, Kalekale, Lehi, Gindai, and Hapuʻupuʻu.
Opakapaka have a colour that ranges from brownish to lavender or reddish purple. At the base of its dorsal and anal fins, their last soft rays extend in short filaments, giving it its scientific name filamentous. Its tailfin has an orange edge and it typically has a yellow iris. Its lower jaw slightly protrudes. Opakapaka is the most sought after bottomfish in Hawai’i, with the highest pounds landed annually. Chefs prize the fish because of its versatility in cooking.
Opakapaka produce pelagic eggs and pelagic larvae spend about 25 days in the water column. Young Opakapaka have been found in relatively shallow water, from 200 to 300 feet, at about 10 months of age. They remain here until they reach 7 to 10 inches, or another 7 months. They then move to deeper water before settling down on the ocean floor where they will spend the remainder of their adult life. Opakapaka reach sexual maturity around 17 to 20 inches in length. Females begin maturing in June, with fully ripe eggs in July. Peak spawning activity for does not happen until August.
ʻŌpelu (Mackeral Scad)
‘Ōpelu, or mackerel scad, is a common tropical fish found around the world in huge schools either inshore or in the open ocean. In Hawai‘i, this fish traditionally was a staple food for many people and continues to be eaten in small fishing villages. Along with being a food source, ‘Ōpelu are often used to catch larger fish such as marlin and ahi tuna.
‘Ōpelu are black metallic to
‘Ōpelu are unique in that they spend their life between two marine habitats, the coral reef and open ocean. They are classified as “coastal pelagic” fish and can grow up to 18 inches. ‘Ōpelu aggregate when spawning, whereby they spawn pelagic eggs that hatch into pelagic larvae. The traditional Hawaiian kapu system for managing fisheries banned ‘ōpelu fishing from March through July during the its spawning period. Juvenile fish swim inshore where they mature and form adult schools by the time they reach sexual maturity at seven to 10 inches, or about 18 months old. They feed predominantly on zooplankton, or small fish, and crustaceans that live in the water column.
The Pacific oyster is native to Japan, but was introduced to North America in the 1920s and is now cultivated around the world using a variety of methods. Its distinctive shell is cup-shaped, giving rise to the name “Pacific cupped oyster.” These hardy shellfish prefer rocky bottoms but can live in a variety of subtidal and intertidal habitats.
Pacific oysters take four years to reach a 2.5- to 3-inch size. They create their hard shell from being exposed to the sun, wind and extremes in temperatures as the tide ebbs and floods. They have a creamy white meat with a firm texture and a robust and briny flavour. Different cultivating methods and the marine environment drastically affect the flavour, texture and appearance of Pacific oysters, allowing shellfish growers to create distinctive regional varieties.
Pacific oysters grow quickly and reproduce rapidly. They first mature and reproduce as males, then later develop into females. Spawning is seasonal and depends on water temperature. Females are very fecund, producing between 50 and 200 million eggs during. Larvae (also known as spat) disperse into the water column and eventually settle on the seafloor where they grow into adults. In proper conditions, these filter-feeders can reach market size in 1.5 to 2.5 years. Most commercial Pacific oysters are cultivated in hatcheries and farms. Shellfish growers typically purchase juvenile oysters or “seed” from hatcheries or collect wild seed from the marine environment. The seed is then taken from the hatchery to a shellfish farm or lease located in a natural marine environment like a bay or inlet. The oysters are grown using a variety of techniques: they can be placed on the seafloor, suspended in mesh bags or trays in the ocean or attached to
Kampachi Farms Yellowtail, or "Kampachi", is a delicious, premium sashimi-grade marine fish, responsibly raised in the open ocean. While genetically identical to wild Seriola rivoliana, known as Almaco Jack or Kahala, farm-raised Kampachi is a distinctly different fish. Hatched from eggs in a shoreside facility and transferred to the open ocean as fingerlings, Kampachi are carefully nurtured through every stage of their life cycle. While wild Kahala can be prone to internal parasites and ciguatoxcicity, the high-quality diets and innovative culture methods used in Kampachi cultivation result in one of the tastiest, most versatile, and healthiest fish available.
For more information, visit Kampachi Farms website.
Monchong (Sickle Pomfret)
Two species of pomfret, also known as monchong in Hawaii are harvested in small quantities by the longline and bottomfish handline fisheries. The predominant species is the sickle pomfret, distinguished by the forked shape of its fins and large scales. The other, the lustrous pomfret accounts for less than 5% of monchong landings in Hawaii.
Monchong has a highly transparent, clear, white flesh with pinkish tones. It is firm in texture and moderate in flavor. It has a high oil content and good shelf life.
Monchong are landed and marketed fresh, sold at the Honolulu fish auction. Restaurants are the primary customers for monchong in Hawaii and the rest of the U.S.
Usually caught in deep waters (greater than 900 feet), often in the vicinity of seamounts. Monchong can range from about 4 pounds to over 25 pounds, but the prime market sizes are fish over 12 pounds.
All Hawaii monchong are line-caught. Longline boats harvest most of the monchong catch in Hawaii. However, some monchong are also caught by deepwater handline gear with power reels.
For more information, visit Hawaiʻi Seafood Council's website.
Kauai Shrimp is an aquaculture operation growing shrimp as a source of protein without the necessity of depleting wildstocks for human consumption.
The farm and hatchery use sustainable hydro- electric power to operate all electrical systems in the production of Kauai Shrimp.Well sourced, pristine, saltwater is filtered through the volcanic sub strata of the island for use in the shrimp ponds.Reusable polyurethane lined ponds enables continuous use of the same ponds without increasing geographic foot print. Bio-fluc technology is utilized in the grow out farm that reduces the need for additional feed and decreases discharge frequency into the settlement basin.
Clams are being grown in the shrimp ponds and they filter the water decreasing the need for water exchange. The shrimp bi products provide an excellent source of nutrition for the clams in a symbiotic relationship. The clams also provide for another source of revenue for Kauai Shrimp company.
For more information, visit Kauai Shrimp website.
This October, join the Hawaii Seafood Council and Conservation International in celebrating Hawaiʻi Seafood Month, a month long event highlighting Hawai'i seafood and the fishers, restaurants, retailers, and seafood businesses committed to sustainable, local seafood and vibrant fishing communities across our paeʻaina.