Hawaii’s Other Open Ocean Species
In addition to tuna and billfish, a few other species are harvested in the open ocean waters off
Hawaii. The best known of these species are the mahimahi (dolphinfish), ono (wahoo), monchong
(bigscale or sickle pomfret), and opah (moonfish). These fish are from different families and are
discussed individually in the Species Descriptions.
Hawaii’s commercial bottomfish catch is comprised of a dozen species of snappers and groupers.
Three snappers and one grouper, and one jack account for about 75% of the landings:
• Snapper or Jobfish (Aprion virescens) or uku;
• Grouper (Epinephelus quernus) or hapu‘upu‘u;
• Crimson snapper (Pristipomoides filamentosus) or opakapaka; and,
• Ruby snapper (Etelis coruscans) or onaga.
Most bottomfish species in Hawaii are caught along the drop-off between the narrow terraces and
the steep slopes that surround the islands and banks. The small amount of suitable habitat limits
potential bottomfish yields.
Small bottomfish (less than 5 pounds), are the preferred size for the household retail market and for
certain types of restaurants, where fish are often served with the head on. Medium to large
bottomfish (over 5 pounds) are preferred for the restaurant fillet market because the percent yield of
edible material is high, handling costs per unit weight are lower, and more uniform portions can be
cut from the larger fish.
Bottomfish landed from the main Hawaiian Islands are marketed through fish auctions in Honolulu
and Hilo, through intermediary buyers on all islands, and directly from fishermen to retail stores and
restaurants. Bottomfish landed from the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are marketed predominantly
through the Honolulu fish auction. The portions of the Hawaiian chain known as the main Hawaiian
Islands and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are shown in Figure 1.
The preferred method of maintaining good quality of bottomfish is to place the fish in an ice-seawa-
ter brine slush immediately after landing to super-chill it in a straight position before packing in ice.
Fish which are bent in the brining procedure may have cracked fillets. To prevent fading of the
attractive natural skin colors, the brine must be periodically replenished with seawater, and the fresh
melted ice water must be drained.
If bottomfish are not chilled to the core (by brining) immediately after capture, or if they are stored in
the round for too long, the viscera will swell and the gills will turn brown and emit a bad odor, reduc-
ing the market value of the fish. Properly chilled bottomfish stored in the round, however, will retain
the desired firm texture longer than bottomfish that are processed immediately after capture.