ʻŌpelu (Decaperus spp.; Mackerel Scad)
‘Ōpelu, or mackerel scad, is a common tropical fish found around the world in large 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 an important source of food for many local residents. ‘Ōpelu are often used as bait to catch larger fish such as marlin and tuna. In traditional times, ‘ōpelu fishing was restricted from March through July during its spawning period. In Hawaiʻi, ʻopelu are harvested using one of two methods: The traditional "hoop net" method involves fishers using vegetable based "palu" or feed to attract fish into schools which are then surrounded and captured using a hoop net from canoes; or artisanal hook-and-line methods in which fishers use a pole and line with live bait scattered into the water. Learn More.
Striped Marlin (Nairagi)
Nairagi is commonly known as striped marlin, or a`u, the Hawaiian name applied to all marlin species. It has the slenderest bill and the most visible “stripes” of all billfish and a high, pointed dorsal fin and more compressed sides.
The flesh color of striped marlin varies from fish to fish and varies from light pink to orange-red. Fish with orange-red flesh are particularly desired for the sashimi market. Nairagi with pink to light-colored flesh are bought for up-scale restaurants. It is considered the finest eating of all marlin species because of its tender flesh.
Nairagi caught around the Hawaiian Islands usually between 40 and 100 pounds in round weight and are rarely over 130 pounds.
Kajiki (Makaira nigricans; Blue Marlin, Aʻu)
Kajiki is commonly known as Pacific blue marlin, or a`u, the Hawaiian name applied to all marlin species. It is distinguishable by its larger size, heavier bill, and rougher, dark/black skin. It lacks the obvious stripes of the nairagi. Kajiki caught around the Hawaiian Islands can get as large as 1,600 pounds in round weight, but the usual size of fish marketed is between 80 and 300 pounds in round weight. All Hawaii blue marlin are line-caught. Trolling boats using lures and baits, and longliners fishing off shore land Hawaii’s blue marlin.
The heaviest landings of Kajiki are June through October. Learn More.
Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares)
In Hawaii, “Ahi” refers to two species, the Bigeye Tuna and the Yellowfin Tuna. Yellowfin Tuna are caught year-round in Hawaiʻi’s waters but are most abundant during the summer season (May-September). Yellowfin have a slimmer profile than the bigeye tuna and have distinctive bright yellow finlets and soft dorsal and anal fins that tend to lengthen with age. Large fish (over 100 pounds) are usually caught in deep open ocean waters and are preferred for their typically higher fat content and greater yields. Most of Hawaiʻi’s Yellowfin Tuna are caught by deep-set longline fishing gear off shore of Hawaiʻi. The remainder of Hawaiʻi landings come from trollers, handliners and pole & line boats (aku boats). Learn More
Opah (Lampris regius; Moonfish)
Opah or moonfish is one of the most colorful of the commercial fish species available in Hawaii. A silvery-grey upper body color shades to a rose red dotted with white spots toward the belly. Its fins are crimson, and its large eyes are encircled with gold. The moonfish’s large, round profile may be the origin of its name. Opah have three types of flesh, each a different color. Behind the head and along the backbone is an attractive orange colored flesh. Toward the belly, the flesh pales to a pink color. The fish’s cheeks yield dark red flesh. These types of flesh all cook to a white color. Opah landed in Hawaii range from 60 to over 200 pounds in weight. A pelagic wandering species, it is often found in the company of tunas and billfish. All of the opah landed in Hawaii are caught by longlining. Almost all opah sold in the U.S. market are from Hawaii. Opah are caught year-round in Hawaiʻi, but landings seem to peak in April-August. Learn More.
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.