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.
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.
Kawakawa (Euthynnus Affinis)
Kawakawa is a species of tuna that lives in the tropical and subtropical waters of the Indo-West Pacific; although, a few stray specimens have been found in the Eastern Central Pacific. This highly migratory species can be found schooling in surface waters where the temperature is higher than 20oC.
The appearance of the Kawakawa ranges form dark blue-greenish dorsally to silvery-white on the belly, with dark spots in area between pelvic and pectoral fins. Many dark, broken, oblique stripes are found on the sides of the body and near the tail. These species have firm, thick fillets and make succulent meat substitutes. Cutlets and steaks can be cooked by grilling, barbecuing, baking, smoking, poaching or marinating.
Kawakawa is heterosexual, and the males and females appear externally similar. Males mature at 40.9 cm3 and females at 38 cm3. It is thought that the spawning season for kawakawa is in the summer, but there is evidence of spawning as early as March and as late as November. Juvenille kawakawa grow quickly, reaching 67 cm within two years.
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.
Mahimahi (Coryphaena hippurus)
The Hawaiian name Mahimahi has become the common name for what is also referred to as the common dolphinfish in the U.S. Hawaiʻi’s Mahimahi is a highly-regarded product which is best eaten when fresh. Local Mahimahi is superior in quality to fresh substitutes from Latin America and imported frozen fillets from Taiwan and Latin America. The supply of locally caught Mahimahi is limited and seasonal considering the high demand for this species. Commercial Mahimahi landings in Hawaii are made by trollers and longliners. Although available most of the year, mahimahi catches in Hawaii usually peak in March-May and September-November. Learn More.
Shortbill Spearfish (Hebi)
Shortbill spearfish are commonly known as Hebi in Hawaii. Its dorsal fin is shorter than that of other billfish species, and its bill is very short in comparison. Hebi caught in Hawaiian waters are usually between 20 and 40 pounds in weight.
Hebi has white to pink colored flesh that is somewhat softer than that of Nairagi or Kajiki. Its flavor is mild (although more pronounced than ahi). It is one of several species of billfish, which are suitable for grilled or broiled “catch of the day” menu items in restaurants. All Hawaii spearfish are line-caught. Longline boats that set hooks in deep water harvest most of the spearfish catch in Hawaii. However, spearfish are also caught by trollers using lures and baits. Hebi is available year round, however peak landings occurring June through October. Learn More.
Ono or wahoo is a close relative of the king mackerel. Built like a torpedo, they are fast swimmers. Ono are most available in Hawaiʻi during the summer and fall (May-October). Ono may grow to more than 100 pounds in weight, but the usual size of the fish caught in Hawaiʻi is 8 to 30 pounds. Hawaiian ono are line-caught with the majority of catch attributed to longline boats and some trollers using lures and baits. European explorers who first mapped the Hawaiian Islands found ono to be plentiful off the island of Oʻahu. Maps of the time indicate that a very common spelling of the word “Oahu” was “Wahoo,” and this is believed to be the origin of the fish’s other name. 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.