FISHERY PROFILE

Hawaiian Bottomfish by Hook & Line

Central Pacific — Hawai'i Islands

PRIMARY SPECIES:

Atlantic Lobster

FISHERY OPENINGS:

APRIL 23-JULY 5

Deep-sea Rod & Reel

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.

HARVESTING METHOD

Deep-sea Rod & Reel

This hook-and-line method of fishing uses a heavy mainline that is lowered and raised with electric, hydraulic or hand-powered reels. Four to 10 circle hooks, baited with squid or fish, branch off the mainline using monofilament lines. A “chum” or bait bag containing chopped fish or squid is sometimes suspended on the mainline above the hooks to attract fish. Fishermen target deep-sea species, including Opakapaka, Onaga, Hapuupuu, Ehu, Kalekale, Gindai and Lehi, along reef slopes, seamounts and banks. Fish are hauled aboard by hand.

Deep-sea Rod & Reel
Fish are the gill-bearing aquatic craniate animals

The Hawaiian bottomfish fleet consists of a mix of vessels from 15-foot recreational boats to 70-foot commercial fishing vessels. The distinction between recreational and commercial vessel is unclear since some recreational vessels are permitted to sell their catch to cover trip expenses. Approximately 58 non-commercial vessels and 450 commercially licensed vessels make up the bottomfish fleet. Vessels typically have one to three crewmembers aboard. Fishing trips typically last a day or overnight, but can range up to seven days.

Conservation Measures

The Hawaiian bottomfish fishery is jointly managed by the Hawaiian Department of Land and Natural Resources in state waters within three miles from shore and by the Western Pacific Region Fisheries Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service in federal waters beyond three miles. A number of measures address conservation in this fishery, including:

  • Requirement for all commercial fishermen to obtain State of Hawai’i commercial marine licenses and to submit monthly catch reports, including all bycatch (discards).
  • Closure of fishing in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands, a 1,200-nautical mile chain of uninhabited islets, reefs and shoals
  • Total allowable catch limits for the 7 bottomfish species
  • Requirement for all non-commercial fishermen to obtain a federal permit and report catches
  • A limit of no more than five bottomfish per trip for non-commercial fishermen
  • Seasonal closures if the total allowable catch is reached prior to August 31

In this lobster fishing area, fish harvesters actively participate in scientific data collection and research such as:

  • a comprehensive data collection 
system on catches
  • scientific sampling of lobsters at sea
  • maintaining catch logbooks and scientific field notebooks
FISHERY DETAILS

Central Pacific

MAP
ECO-RATINGS / CERTIFICATIONS

SeaChoice - Some Concerns

Ocean Wise - Recommended

Seafood Watch - Good Alternative

FISHERY OPENINGS

Sep 01 - Aug 31

RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

The Hawaiian bottomfish fishery is jointly managed by the Hawaiian Department of Land and Natural Resources in state waters within three miles from shore and by the Western Pacific Region Fisheries Management Council and National Marine Fisheries Service in federal waters beyond three miles. For more info, visit Hawai’i Bottomfish Fishery website

FISH STOCK STATUS

The National Marine Fisheries Service conducts stock assessments on Hawai’I’s bottomfish species. For more info, visit Hawai’i Bottomfish Fishery website

Food Info Ehu (Red Snapper)


TASTING NOTES

  • Color: clear, light pink flesh  
  • Texture: soft and moist with flakey sweet flesh
  • Flavor: delicate, mild sweet taste
  • Perfect serve: Ehu is most commonly served raw, grilled, fried, baked, steamed or sauteed. It also makes great sashimi.
HOW TO CHOOSE A QUALITY EHU (RED SNAPPER)