Do you know where
your seafood comes from?
Traceability is necessary to ensure that
seafood actually comes from sustain-
Hawaii pelagic fisheries
products are directly traceable to
U.S. fishing vessels with limited access
permits that operate under satellite
vessel-tracking surveillance and with
high levels of government observer
coverage at sea. There is no transship-
ment of fish from Hawaii vessels at sea.
High seas transshipment is one of the
ways fish from illegal, unregulated and
unreported fishing vessels (IUU) can
enter the market undetected. IUU fishing
is one of the greatest threats to sus-
tainable fisheries. The regulations and
enforcement in the Port of Honolulu
make certain that fish from foreign
vessels are not landed that could become
comingled with Hawaii-caught fish
as they pass through the auction
marketing system. There is a record
check for each vessel delivering fish to
the Honolulu Fish auction to be certain
it is a registered American vessel.
All Hawaii longline vessels hold valid
limited entry permits. By these measures,
it is not possible for fish from IUU vessels
to take on the U.S. country of origin
label through the Port of Honolulu.
What is Sustainable Seafood?
Sustainable seafood is a renewable
It is harvested in a
way that the catch can be continued
year after year without jeopardizing
or compromising the future of the fish
population or the marine ecosystem
it depends on. In order to utilize fish
sustainably and maintain fish popula-
tions indefinitely, natural fish mortality
and fish harvested must be replenished
by reproduction and growth. To main-
tain this balance, fishing activity must
be well-managed, and the relationship
between the harvested fish population
and the ecosystem must be understood.
This is the challenging role of fishery
managers with help from fishery
scientists, the fishing sector and others.
See Figure 1
Role of Government
in Sustaining Fisheries.
All ocean fisheries in the U.S. are
managed by government agencies.
There are laws and regulations in place
that mandate managing American
fisheries for sustainability. In Hawaii
we have the necessary enforcement
capabilities and compliance is high.
Our Hawaii fisheries are closely
monitored, studied and constantly
re-evaluated on shore and at sea.
We rely on the scientific assessments
made by our scientists to make
informed and objective management
decisions. This adaptive management
system is capable of making adjustments
to keep the Hawaii fishery operating
within sustainable limits. The govern-
ment agencies are best qualified to
make the objective assessments and
management decisions to protect
the fish and the environment while
supporting the sustainable harvest.
Fishery scientists and managers
have technical definitions of
“sustainability,” what do they mean?
“Maximum Sustainable Yield”
is the maximum average amount
of fish that can be harvested from
a population on a continuing basis.
occurs when the
amount of fish harvested is greater
than the level which produces MSY.
A fish population is
when it falls substantially below the
level needed to produce MSY.
(OY) is a precau-
tionary operating target that managers
set below MSY to ensure that the
limits on harvest rate are not exceeded
and the fish population size does
not fall below that needed for MSY.
What are the basic foundations
required to keep seafood sustainable?
Those of us who love seafood can judge
the quality of seafood in the market.
We can identify the species of fish.
But how can we judge the sustainability
of seafood? To do this, we must know
something about where the fish came
from and how it was caught.
Simply put, we need to know,
1) How the fishery is managed
2) Status of harvested fish populations
3) The ecosystem impacts of fishing