I. Biological Description
Two species of pomfret, also known as monchong
in Hawaii, are harvested in small quantities by the
tuna longline and bottomfish handline fisheries.
The predominant species is Taractichthys
steindachneri, known as the sickle or bigscale
pomfret, because of the forked shape of its fins
and large scales. Longline fishermen from Japan
refer to monchong as “utopia fish.” The large black
scales covering the entire body of this species
distinguish it from Eumegistus illustris, or lustrous pomfret, which has bronze skin color, larger eyes,
and a thicker body. The lustrous pomfret also has a scaleless area behind and above the eyes
lacking in the sickle pomfret. The lustrous pomfret accounts for less than 5% of monchong landings
Monchong are usually caught in deep waters (greater than 150 fathoms), often in the vicinity of
seamounts. The lustrous pomfret has been caught on seabed slopes over 250 fathoms deep. Not
much is known about the biology or habitat of these species.
II. Of Special Interest For Buying/Distributing
Availability And Seasonality:
Only small quantities of monchong are available because it is not
usually targeted by fishermen. The largest supply is the by-catch from the tuna longline fleet, espe-
cially boats which fish deep waters around seamounts. There are no well-defined seasonal trends in
availability. Monchong can range from about 4 pounds to over 25 pounds, but the prime market sizes
are fish over 12 pounds.
Like several other species harvested in Hawaii primarily as by-catch, monchong has gained an
identity as an exotic fish which can add variety to restaurant menus.
Monchong are landed and marketed fresh. Most of the catch is sold at the Honolulu fish
auction to a few primary processors who are experienced in marketing pomfret. Restaurants are the
primary customers for monchong in Hawaii and the rest of the U.S.A.
Monchong can be substituted for deep water snappers, such as opakapaka, onaga,
and uku. When ocean conditions are unfavorable for bottomfishing and restaurants face rising prices
for premium snappers, demand often increases for monchong landed by the longline fleet.
Most monchong are taken as a by-catch by tuna longliners. Fishermen using
handlines for bottomfish also catch monchong at great depths (over 200 fathoms), but it is not a
primary target species. Targeting by a few handline fishermen has shown that monchong is a limited
Monchong (Bigscale Pomfret)