I. Biological Description
Opakapaka (Pristipomoides filamentosus) is
commonly known as crimson snapper or Hawaiian
pink snapper, although its skin is light brown.
Opakapaka are usually caught at depths between
30 and 100 fathoms. Fish caught over hard
bottoms have brighter skin colors than those
caught over soft bottoms.
Although this species occurs throughout the tropical Pacific, nowhere does it grow as large as in the
Hawaiian Islands. When a new opakapaka fishing area is discovered, the initial size of fish caught
may be 12 to 18 pounds. Opakapaka of this size could be at least 10 years old.
II. Of Special Interest For Buying/Distributing
Availability And Seasonality:
Although opakapaka are caught year-round in the Hawaiian Islands,
there is a distinct peak in landings during the winter season (October-February), particularly in the
fishery around the main Hawaiian Islands. Most of the Opakapaka caught off the main Hawaiian
Islands are from 1 to 5 pounds in round weight, whereas the waters around the Northwestern
Hawaiian Islands yield fish mostly from 3 to 12 pounds in round weight or larger.
Opakapaka harvested from the main Hawaiian Islands, is sold at the fish auctions,
through intermediary buyers on the major islands, and directly to retail fish markets and restaurants.
The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands’ catch is marketed primarily through the Honolulu fish auction.
Substitutions are possible among the deep water snapper species available in Hawaii.
However, no other snapper has gained the reputation of the opakapaka, and there is only weak
substitutability for opakapaka in the up-scale restaurant market. Nevertheless, uku is sometimes
substituted for opakapaka during the summer months when the former species is most available and
the latter species is least available.
Opakapaka is caught principally by vertical hook-and-line gear. Small fish which
migrate into relatively shallow depths are sometimes trapped.
III. Of Special Interest For Preparation/Quality Control
Shelf Life And Quality Control:
Opakapaka caught off the main Hawaiian Islands are marketed within
a few days, whereas the fish taken in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in some cases may not
reach the market for 10 days. When properly cared for, opakapaka has a long shelf life — almost
two weeks after capture (see Table 3).
Product Forms And Yields:
The ethnic and household retail market components have a strong
preference for small (1 or 2 pound) opakapaka. The larger-sized fish are filleted (usually leaving the
Opakapaka (Crimson Snapper)