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.
Monchong (Taractichthys steindachneri)
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. 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. 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. 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.
Aku (Katsuwonus pelamis; Skipjack Tuna)
A local favorite, Aku or Skipjack Tuna are extremely important food fish in Hawaiian and Pacific Island cultures and in Japan. Aku has the most pronounced taste of all of Hawaii’s tunas. It is the preferred species for many ethnic dishes, especially poke (Hawaiian-style raw fish) and tataki (Japanese-style seared fish). Many consumers in Hawaii prefer sashimi prepared from large aku to that from ahi. The majority of Hawaiʻi skipjack tuna are caught by pole & line (aku boats) using live bait to attract fish and barbless hooks to catch them. This traditional style of fishing comes from Japan. The remainder of landings come from Hawaii trollers and longliners. Learn more.
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
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.
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
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.