Hawaiian Sea Bass is commonly called hapu‘upu‘u in Hawaii and grouper in other markets. This species is only known to occur in the Hawaiian Islands and at seamounts just northwest of Hawaii. Members of the grouper family 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.
The largest landings of hapu‘upu‘u usually occur from October-December and February-April. The majority of the hapu‘upu‘u catch in recent years has come from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. 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 range from 10 to 30 pounds. This delicious fish is popularly consumed steamed. Learn More.
Fishermen use rods and reels to catch six species of snapper and one species of grouper that are called “bottomfish” and nicknamed the “deep 7” because they live at the bottom of the sea around the Hawaiian archipelago. Each vessel has two to four weighted mainlines that are lowered and raised with reels to depths of 1,200 feet. Baited hooks branch off this mainline. This fishing method is similar to those traditionally used by native Hawaiians.