Hawaiian Pond Fish
Five distinct species
Hawaiian pond fish include five species that were traditionally raised in fishponds by native Hawaiians as a source of food. They all have the ability to inhabit brackish water and have even been known to travel upstream in rivers. The ability to live in many different water conditions makes these fish ideal for raising in fishponds. They have a wide distribution all over the world. The species include:
- Moi, Sixfinger Threadfin, Polydactylus sexfilis
- Awaawa, Hawaiian Ladyfish, Elops hawaiensis
- Awa, Milkfish, Chanos chanos
- ‘Ama’ama, Striped mullet, Mugil cephalus
- Uouoa, Sharpnose mullet, Neomyxus leuciscus
Moi, or Sixfinger threadfin, get their name from the six pectoral filaments extending from below its mouth. Moi use these filaments to probe sandy bottoms for food. They have a uniform silver color, sometimes exhibiting faint dark stripes along its body. Pond fish also include two kinds of mullet, the ‘Ama’ama, or Striped mullet and the Uouoa, or Sharpnose mullet. Uouoa are grey in the upper third of its body, fading to silver and white. They also have dark pectoral fins with a bright yellow spot at its origin. ‘Ama’ama are olive-green shading to silver and white with distinct lateral stripes. Awa, or Milkfish, have an elongated olive green body with small toothless mouths. Awa’awa, or Hawaiian ladyfish, has an extremely elongated body and are often confused with mullet.
Moi can be found in large schools along sandy and rocky shorelines, often in high surge areas. Moi feed mainly on benthic invertebrates. They spawn from June to August. Awa and mullet feed on algae that often cling to rocks on the ocean floor. They can also eat algae in surface films by inhaling and filtering sediments through fine gill rakers. Mullet spawn from December to March. Awa’awa are active swimmers and are seen in schools in open water. They feed on small fish and invertebrates.
Hook and Line Reef Fishing
This fishery uses a variety of artisanal methods to catch reef fish, including handlines, and pole and lines. Catch rates are low, usually only a few pounds per hour with little bycatch (discards). These small-scale fishing methods are similar to those traditionally used by native Hawaiians.